Skip to navigation

What we're up to

news News Thursday, July 18, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 12:05 PM - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 12:05 PM

Halle’s story

First child with cleft lip treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City

Halle’s story

Pregnant with her first child, Cristina’s ultrasound exams and doctor visits didn’t detect any medical issues of concern. When her baby, Halle, was born, the doctor discovered that among other medical complications, Halle had a cleft lip. The nurses immediately examined the newborn to see if she also had a cleft palate. They found the condition was limited to the upper lip.

Clefts are openings or splits that occur in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth or both. The conditions occur when facial structures don’t fuse or close completely while they are developing in the womb. Babies may be born with one or both of these conditions.

Baby Halle was in the NICU and her parents were taking in all of the details regarding her diagnoses when the in-house plastic surgeon came to see them. They were not ready or prepared to have this level of discussion.

“We felt pressured to meet with a specific plastic surgeon and [were told] he would answer all our questions,” said Devin, Halle’s father. “He seemed more concerned with scheduling the appointment than letting us know what our options were.”

Cristina and Devin did not want to make a tough decision about surgery, while dealing with Halle’s more immediate medical needs. The couple decided to seek the best care for Halle’s cleft lip and get answers to their questions: What is the appropriate age for the surgery? How long is the recovery time? Will it be one surgery, or a series of surgeries? What exactly is the procedure, and how will it be performed? They were hopeful that they would finally get the answers they were looking for.

Devin’s nephew had received treatment at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City and knew that the pediatric orthopaedic hospital was now offering cleft lip surgical services. Finding comfort in his nephew’s good experience, Devin contacted Shriners Hospitals for Children.

During the consultation appointment at the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital, Cristina and Devin met with plastic surgeon Dana Johns, M.D. They felt immediate relief and were delighted to be receiving the answers they were seeking. Devin calls Dr. Johns the best! “[From the beginning] she was quite detailed in explaining to us how cleft lip forms and how it is repaired.” The couple found Dr. Johns pleasant and easy to talk to.

The family’s next visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City was for Halle’s surgery. They had a great experience. “The attention we received from the staff was second to none,” said Devin. “From the check-in desk to the recovery room we always felt comfortable.” Devin and Cristina appreciated that during their stay they were encouraged to explore the hospital, and provide Halle with playtime in the big playroom.

“Dr. Johns cared for our daughter as though she was her only patient,” said Devin of the care provided by the plastic surgeon. When reflecting on the first follow-up visit, Cristina and Devin felt Dr. Johns was happy to see them. “She was excited to see how Halle was healing and was extremely pleasant in telling us the dos and don’ts in caring for Halle’s lip post-op. We are grateful for Dr. Johns’ expertise in the field, for always keeping us in the loop, and for her caring personality.”

Devin’s sentiments are also strong regarding the staff who made his family’s stay so special. “I would like to hug and thank every individual at Shriners Hospital who we came in contact with. We are extremely grateful for the service Shriners Hospital provides to families like ours. Without Shriners Hospital, we would be haunted by hospital bills and the stress that accompanies it. Halle will grow up knowing how Shriners Hospitals for Children has improved her life and helped her become the beautiful baby she is today. We are forever grateful to the mission of Shriners Hospital and what they do for children everywhere.”

Since the surgery in January, Halle continues to thrive. Devin describes her as doing beyond great! “Her lip looks fantastic. If you didn’t know better, you’d never know anything was ever wrong.”

Learn more about plastic and reconstructive surgery services available at Shriners Hospital for Children — Salt Lake City. Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

Halle post cleft lip surgery