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Successful Cleft Palate and Lip Stories

Clare's Cleft Lip Story

Stephanie found out at her 18-week ultrasound that the baby she was expecting might have a cleft lip. "I was really scared and spent all my time worrying," Stephanie says. "As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried. Everything worked out just fine."

She credits Dr. Shaheen and the Craniofacial Clinic for that result. "After Clare was born we went to see a plastic surgeon at another hospital a couple of times and even had surgery scheduled. But after I left one appointment in tears, I wanted to go see this Beaumont doctor that we had heard about from a friend of a friend. After our first appointment with Dr. Shaheen we had a totally different feeling -- at peace that this was the right choice."

Clare had surgery when she was three months old to repair a partial cleft lip. The family continues to take Clare for checkups at the clinic and especially like that the staff "treated us as if Clare was a normal baby."

Clare has five older siblings ranging up to 12 years in age, so she has lots of playmates, and a seventh child is on the way. "She is thriving and spunky," Stephanie says.

Fallon's Cleft Palate Story

At age 6, Fallon W. is already showing her pony in 4-H contests and riding on her parents' Metamora farm. She swims and takes care of her rabbit, also a 4-H project.

"She definitely is leading a normal life," says her mother, Pamela Waldowski.

Fallon was born with a cleft lip and palate and has had two surgeries, the second by Kenneth Shaheen, M.D., co-medical director of the Ian Jackson Craniofacial and Cleft Palate Clinic.

"Dr. Shaheen is great because he explains things very simply, even drawing pictures so Fallon can understand," Pamela says. "He takes the time to make sure we are all comfortable with what is going on. He has a great bedside manner with the kids."

Fallon currently visits the Clinic every year and may have other surgeries in the future. "We talk to all the different specialists every visit, but they are so organized at the Clinic that we see all the doctors and it doesn't take that long."

Karen and Kevin's Cleft Palate Story

When Karen and Kevin were expecting their baby, they didn't want to learn during the ultrasound exam whether it was boy or girl. What they did learn at an early ultrasound, however, was that the baby might have a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Several 3-D ultrasounds by the Ian Jackson Craniofacial and Cleft Palate Clinic during the pregnancy were inconclusive, so the diagnosis wasn't confirmed until the birth of Karen and Kevin's daughter.

"Dr. (Kenneth) Shaheen was referred to us by a family friend who is an oral surgeon," Karen recalls. "He took so much time with us during the pregnancy to explain things and even came to her birth, which he didn't have to. He has the best bedside manner of any doctor I've met."

Karen and Kevin have seen a lot of doctors over the years since their daughter was born. A series of surgeries has been performed from the time the baby was three months old until just recently. The family has worked with a team that includes an oral surgeon, plastic surgeon, orthodontist, prosthodontist, dentist and social worker. One or two surgeries may yet be needed.

"We have just had a really wonderful experience with Dr. Shaheen and Beaumont, which has provided the finest care possible. The staff at the Craniofacial Clinic is great. They've become part of our family."

Their daughter is growing up to be well adjusted and "likes to do everything," including dancing, swimming, playing soccer and baseball, and being active in church.

Tamyra's Craniofacial Story

Tamyra was born three years ago the right side of her skull was smaller than the left side and "slightly twisted," according to her mother, Terri Parnell. Tamyra's right ear was also completely closed, due to a condition called congenital aural atresia.

"We didn't believe she was going to hear out of her right ear, but she seems to have some hearing," Terri says. "It hasn't affected her speech and she's learning very well."

Tamyra has been seeing plastic surgeon Kenneth Shaheen, M.D., director of the Beaumont Craniofacial Clinic, every six months for an evaluation of her physical development. "They haven't done anything surgically," Terri says. "They are taking pictures and watching the growth of her jaw."

Tamyra gets special help to ensure that her speech and learning are progressing. She has been working with a teacher since she was a baby to ensure that her development progresses appropriately.  The Craniofacial Clinic referred her to the Early On program through the Berkley School District, which is designed for children with special needs.