By the time Matias and his mother met the Global Smile Foundation (GSF) team in March 2019, they had already lived through difficult times. Matias was born prematurely at 32 weeks gestation with severe bilateral cleft lip and palate. He and his mother were also forced to flee their home in Venezuela due to violence and were living with family in Ecuador.
When the GSF team first evaluated Matias, they found that he was too malnourished to undergo surgery. Like many babies born with cleft, Matias was not able to feed properly and he was underweight. His mother could not afford the special formula her son would need to grow and thrive. Fortunately, her sister heard about GSF and they brought Matias.
Our speech volunteers showed Matias’s mother how to feed him with a bottle and worked with Fundación Global Smile-Ecuador to raise money for special formula to help Matias thrive. One of GSF’s board members learned of the campaign and donated enough to put the campaign past the goal to provide Matias’s formula for 6 months.
Matias and his mother returned to the September 2019 mission and he had grown enough to undergo surgery. The GSF team used a complex surgical technique to repair Matias’s lip that combines four different surgical procedures in one setting. GSF volunteers have an extensive history of using this technique to successfully repair severe bilateral cleft lip and palate with great outcomes.