The Alberta Children’s Hospital has been caring for Izzabella since she was only five days old. Izzabella was born with a Cleft Lip and a bilateral Cleft Palate – her mouth was missing both her soft and hard palate. Through an ultrasound, her parents were prepared their first born would be born with a Cleft Lip and likely a Cleft Palate but they had no idea just how many surgeries – nine so far – it would take to correct it. And while grateful that feeding wasn’t a challenge for her, thanks to the help of a special bottle, Izzy’s parents couldn’t help but worry about their little girl’s future. Would she have speech delays? Would she grow up looking differently than everyone else and would she be teased by other kids because of it? Thankfully, they would meet specialists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital with the expertise to care for Izzabella for as long as she would need them.
When she was five days old, her parents brought Izzy to the hospital from their home city of Medicine Hat for a meeting with Plastic Surgeon Dr. Frankie Fraulin who explained to them how he would help to close the gaps left by the Cleft Lip and Palate. Over six months, a retainer-type device called a NAM worked to gradually close the gap in her palate through regular adjustments. When Izzy was six months old, Dr. Fraulin then performed a surgery to close her lip. When she was one, she underwent another surgery to seal the roof of her mouth. However, she had such a severe cleft palate that six months later, she had to return for another surgery when the gap reopened. During this time as she grew up, eating became a challenge when food would go through her nose, and she had issues with speech. A few years later, when she was beginning Kindergarten, Dr. Fraulin performed a pharyngeal flap surgery — a procedure to correct airflow to help her with her speech. She also underwent a bone graft when she was seven during which doctors took bone from her hip and grafted it to her palate to keep her jaw together. The longest surgery, when she was eight, involved taking tissue from her cheek and pulling two teeth, and grafting the tissue to the roof her mouth to reinforce support for her newly constructed palate. Seeing her, and hearing her, today, you would never know Izzy had a Cleft Lip and Palate. She went from needing speech therapy at age three to confidently making speeches in front of her class and as a member of student council! When she grows up, she wants to be a “specialist” to help other kids with Cleft Palates. J
Izzabella’s family can’t imagine life without the Alberta Children’s Hospital, especially since it has been there for her since she was born. They are so grateful to the Plastic Surgery experts who helped her overcome her challenges by correcting her Cleft Palate so beautifully.
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