14-year-old Jefferson Valencia was born with a cleft lip and palate in the small coastal city of Esmeraldas, which is 300 miles from Guayaquil. There are no plastic surgeons in Esmeraldas, and when Jefferson was a small child he received a flawed surgery for his lip from an unqualified surgeon that did not fix the problem at all. As he grew up, he was bullied for his unusual appearance – an experience shared by many children with cleft. One of his teachers grew very close to him and kept an eye on local news, hoping that a humanitarian group would come to Ecuador.
Luckily, our partner, Fundacion el Cielo para Los Ninos, had notified the mayors of small towns in Ecuador about AfS. Jefferson’s teacher heard the great news and let his mom know. He and his family undertook the 8 hour bus journey to Guayaquil, hoping for a new chance for Jefferson. He was approved for surgery during opening clinic.
Dr. Chris performed a successful repair of both his lip and palate. Both Jefferson and his mom were very happy with the results; they headed home excited for his bright new future.