Connor was diagnosed with cleft lip and palate before he was born when the condition was revealed on an ultrasound when his mom Jessica was 20 weeks pregnant. Jessica and Brian, Connor’s dad, searched for the best team to correct the condition and were thankful to find it close to their suburban Chicago home.
Lurie Children's Cleft Lip & Palate Repair Program team is led by pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Arun Gosain, an expert in the correction of cleft lip and palate who trains other plastic surgeons in the U.S. and abroad and leads research in pediatric craniofacial surgery at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.
“Before Connor was born, Dr. Gosain walked us through his methods and approach to care. We were so relieved,” Jessica said.
Because Connor had a wide cleft lip and palate – or as his parents like to joke, an ‘extra wide smile’ – Connor began his cleft appointments just a few days after his birth. His circumstances made him a candidate for a special presurgical technique available at Lurie Children’s called nasoalveolar molding, or NAM, that helps reduce scarring and improve surgical outcomes.
The NAM device stretches and forms the cartilaginous contours of the nose, providing for a more normalized anatomy for the surgeon to work with.
After five months of NAM therapy, Connor had his nose and lip repair surgery with Dr. Gosain, and then, at one year old, his palate was repaired.
As he grew up, Connor endured additional surgeries with Dr. Gosain, including a bone graft to help repair the missing bone in his gums, an effect of the cleft lip and palate, that helps ensure proper tooth development.
“Sending your child off to surgery never gets easier, but the care and support the Lurie Children’s team provides is unmatched,” Jessica said. “There have many tears, by both us and Connor, but there is always a Lurie Children’s staff person to comfort and ensure that everything is going to be OK.”
Today, Connor is eight years old and loves soccer and video games. His family relocated to Florida a couple years ago but return to Chicago annually for his follow-up cleft lip and palate appointments with Dr. Gosain and the team, which make for a happy reunion between the young patient and the Lurie Children’s team.
“When you ask him who his hero is, he always says ‘Dr. Gosain,’” Jessica said.