We met two-year-old Denz in 2019 while our medical team was working in Manila, Philippines. Denz grew up in the small village of MacArthur on the big island province of Mindanao. As soon as his parents, Angie and Dennis, saw that Denz was born with a cleft lip, they began saving money to pay for his future surgery. Little did they know that halfway around the world, Alliance for Smiles was beginning preparations for a mission to their area.
When AfS volunteer dental hygienist Steve Cook heard about the mission to Manila, he immediately reached out to let us know that his wife had a cousin in her home village of MacArthur in the Philippines who had a son with a cleft. Thus began little Denz’s journey to meet with the dedicated AfS volunteers to have his smile repaired.
When Angie and Dennis arrived in Manila, they told us, “When we heard that you were coming to the Philippines, we jumped at the opportunity for Denz’s cleft lip to be repaired! We traveled with the family to Manila so Denz could receive surgery.” His parents were so surprised and elated at the beautiful outcome of the surgery, and couldn’t wait to get back home for everyone to see his new smile.
That was in 2019.
We reached out last month to see how Denz is doing, and are so pleased to announce that he is in perfect health. His parents tell us that “Denz is just running around as his usual playful self.” That is truly the goal – for a child to be able to lead a healthy, happy, normal life full of joy and opportunity – without the physical, mental, and emotional challenges cleft conditions can bring.
As you can see in the photo below his lip has healed beautifully; thanks to the donors and volunteers of Alliance for Smiles, Denz likely won’t even remember that he ever had a cleft.