Megan Thompson from Birmingham is celebrating her son’s amazing smile thanks to skilled surgery to repair a cleft palate. Megan revealed that her child was diagnosed with a bilateral cleft lip and palate while in the womb. The condition occurs when the parts of a baby’s face do not join together properly during development in the womb, according to the NHS.
Her son, George, inherited the condition from her as she was also born with a cleft lip and has since had 7 surgeries to correct it. “I was really upset when I found out, because I felt like it was my fault. I had never seen a cleft baby before, so was worried about whether I would be able to look after him too. But when he was born all my fears just disappeared. I thought he was the most beautiful thing. Tommy and I were really happy.” Megan said.
When he was born, George had a wide hole under his nose, leaving him unable to breast feed and with hearing loss in one ear. Now, the 16-month-old toddler has had two successful surgeries, one at five months and a second at 11 months.
“He’s thriving now and seeing him smile for the first time after the surgery was amazing. He seemed so much happier. He was like a different baby.” Megan said.
She added, “Most people would be friendly when they saw George before his operations, but I will always remember being in the doctor’s surgery when an old man came up to me and said, ‘When are you going to fix his face?”
Megan was heartbroken to hear that. She said, “It was mortifying. I try not to be defensive because lots of people are not aware of cleft, so I explained that he was having his lip repaired but he did not need to be ‘fixed’ because he was never broken.”
“Appearance is important, but the main consequence of leaving a cleft lip and palate like George’s would be the effect on his speech and how he eats.
“I had my first operation when I was three months but I was still badly bullied for having a cleft palate as a child – to the point where I had to change schools – and I really didn’t want that to happen to him.” Megan revealed.
George was unable to breastfeed as he had a bilateral cleft palate. The poor baby also had bad acid reflux. As he grew, some food like yogurt would come back out of his nose, which was very uncomfortable. He also suffered with glue ear on his left side, a build-up of fluid which can affect hearing – something, which cleft palate babies are more prone to.
“Despite everything, George was such a happy baby, you would not think there was anything wrong with him. His smile was amazing even before his surgery. I knew that if he didn’t it would affect him later in life, not just in the way he looked, but with his feeding and speech.” Megan said.
Baby George had his first operation at just 5 months old. The child was uncomfortable for a short while but his mom says the results were incredible. “He looked amazing. He looked so much more comfortable. The reflux was a lot better as well.” said Megan.
“I was so used to his lip being split in two, but they pulled the two sides of his face together and the result was brilliant.” She added.
At 11 months old, George had another surgery to repair his soft palate. Now, George can now do anything a normal baby could do. And his mother wants people to know it is not the end of the world to have a cleft baby. “As he gets older, it will be up to him if he wants more operations to change his mouth cosmetically.” Megan admits.
Now, Megan has raised £400 for CLAPA, a voluntary organization helping those with and affected by cleft lip and palate and wants to raise awareness of the condition. “I want to raise awareness of cleft palate, because there is some negativity around it and people make out it is the worst condition ever, but it is not. George could do anything a normal baby could do. I just want people to know it is not the end of the world to have a cleft baby.” Megan said.
Baby George has such a heartwarming smile, don’t you agree?
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