Two-year-old Marienlys Daez, a girl with pig-tails and a passion for pink, had trouble pronouncing the letters P and M due to a very noticeable cleft of the lip and gums. Unable to get the proper medical care in her native Dominican Republic she turned to Lenox Hill Hospital.
Lenox Hill surgeons, Dr. Thomas Romo, chief of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Dr. Stephen Warren, a craniofacial surgeon, repaired her upper lip and she is now on her way to a healthy, happy looking smile, as well as improved speech. Her trip was provided by The Little Baby Face Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Romo and the surgery was provided free by the hospital.
“Correcting the cleft in the lip will allow her to start kindergarten looking like her classmates, which will be tremendously important to her education and her social development,” Dr. Warren said.
A cleft lip is the second most common birth defect in the world. About every two-and-a-half minutes a child is born with a cleft of the lip somewhere in the world.
“Typically in America children with clefts of the lip and palate are treated at about three months of age. As is often the case in the developing world children with clefts are not treated until much older,” Dr. Romo said.
When Marianelys is about 7 or 8 years of age she will undergo a second procedure to treat the cleft in her gum, which impairs the development of the adult teeth if it is not corrected.
Dr. Romo said his foundation will be able to help more children from the Dominican Republic thanks to Mario Olivero, a bishop in the South Bronx who brought news of the Little Babyface foundation to his home country. He coordinated with the foundation to bring Marianelys to New York City in recent weeks and will continue to work with Dr. Romo.