Approximately one in 700 children born have a cleft lip and/or a cleft palate. The deformity is one of the most startling physically, distorting the newborn’s face and nearly impossible to hide. While easily fixable in the developing world, finding the necessary aid in Haiti can often be impossible.
Estha Jeudy remembers when her son Sebastien was born with the tell-tale split lip. “I had neighbors telling me to abandon him at the nearest hospital,” she explains, cradling the 7 month old baby. “We live in Jacmel, and they just told me to go to Peredo Hospital and leave him there. But instead I went to the hospital and asked for help. One of the nurses, she told me to come here.”
Estha then made the 5-hour journey with her husband and her son to St Damien Hospital. At the same time, Children’s Surgery International (CSI), a non-profit organization serving underprivileged children around the world by providing free surgical services, was also making their journey to St Damien. CSI is an expert in reconstructive surgery for cleft lips and palates, and Sebastien was scheduled for one of the group’s 50 surgery slots.
Estha remembers, “I saw all these doctors, and I was filled with hope and fear at the same time. Before Sebastien’s surgery, I came in the room and I asked the doctor to give me a chance to talk with one of the patient’s parents. The mother looked at me, and I think I must have looked very upset, because she asked, “Why are you so sad?”
“I told her, ‘I have been carrying this pain in my arms for 7 months. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing strength and all my courage runs away.’ The mother put her hands on my shoulder. ‘Look,’ she said, ‘you see all those doctors over there; they are all here to help. Everything will be fine–just give them an hour of time and you will feel and see the difference.'”
Estha smiles. “And that’s all it was! After one hour, I went up to ballon room and I didn’t recognize my son! I only knew it was him because of the yellow t-shirt he was wearing! His face was completely changed–a miracle had been made by the CSI doctors.” She shakes her head. “A word of thanks wouldn’t be enough to say to all the staff, especially to CSI for this beautiful gift that they gave to my family. All I can give or offer is my prayer asking God’s directive so the NPFS organization can reach the highest level all over the world.”