Our Kids: Stories of Transformation

Natalie’s Story: An Eighteen Year Journey of Transformation

When Natalie was born with a cleft lip and palate, her mother cried, not knowing what was wrong with her baby or what to expect for her new girl’s future. The doctors, however, knew exactly what to do: they referred them to the Craniofacial Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Today, Natalie is a thriving 17-year-old: an athlete, a member of the student council, and a prospective advertising major at ISU. The road there has not been easy, however. When she was a newborn, she underwent a lip repair surgery. When she was just three months old, she had nose surgery, followed by palate surgery and two bone grafts. Constant speech therapy, orthodontia, and corrective surgeries to her face have forced her to find superhuman strength within herself, facing down her trials while growing into the confident young woman she is today.Read More…

Cameron’s Story: Overcoming Learning Disabilities

When Cameron’s mother was six months pregnant, a routine ultrasound revealed an unidentified dark mark around his mouth. Suspecting a cleft palate, her doctors referred her to the Craniofacial Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The doctors at the Center quickly dispelled her uncertainties, supplying information on cleft palates and helping her know when the baby arrived. Tough as a diagnosis of a cleft palate is for any parent, the wealth of information the Center offered gave Cameron’s mother the clarity and purpose she needed to prepare for her new son’s life.

Only 12, Cameron has undergone reparative surgeries for his cleft lip and palate, as well as a bone graft to repair his jaw, and surgery to implant tubes in his ears. Also born with Down’s syndrome and Autism, Cameron has faced a steeper journey than most, struggling with learning disabilities even while facing his harrowing treatment schedule. Read More…

Tinley’s Story: Diagnosed at Birth with Apert’s Syndrome

Tinley was born with Apert’s syndrome, a rare condition in which the child’s bones fuse in the womb. Most critically, the bones of the skull fuse prematurely, preventing the head from expanding during the child’s early years, when the brain ordinarily triples in size.

As soon as doctors diagnosed Tinley with Apert’s syndrome, her family had to consider where they could find treatment, looking at centers as far away Texas. Fortunately for her family, their doctors recommended the Craniofacial Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, whose expert staff works mere minutes away from their house.

By the time she was five months old, doctors at the Center had completely restructured Tinley’s skull in a 12-hour procedure, leaving her brain enough room to grow. Read More…