A very special baby girl named Sofía has captured the hearts of IEP volunteers and staff. Sofía was born with a double cleft lip, a cleft palate, and congenital eye malformation. She and her parents face challenges that most people cannot imagine.
Upon Sofía’s birth in October of 2017, the staff at the hospital where she was born swept her away and would not allow her mother to see the baby for more than two weeks, fearing that the parents would abandon her because of her appearance. Sofía’s parents have proved them wrong in the most beautiful way. For six months they were told that nothing could be done to help their baby. But love for their child, faith, and persistence led them to continue to search for help.
In March of this year Sofía’s parents heard that there was a group of American doctors providing free health care at a clinic close to their home. Those doctors were part of an IEP team. Fate would have it that Dr. Jorge Corona, an ophthalmologist specializing in oculoplastic and orbital surgery, was a part of the team. He examined Sofía and immediately called a colleague in Dallas. Dr. Raul Barcelo is an aesthetic and reconstructive facial surgeon who regularly treats cleft lips and palates. Drs. Barcelo and Corona, Sofía and Sofía’s parents had a Skype “appointment” that changed the trajectory of Sofía’s life when Dr. Barcelo agreed to join an upcoming IEP surgical team and to perform Sofía’s first surgery alongside Dr. Corona.
On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, Dr. Barcelo, Dr. Corona, and a team of nurses and technicians from Team Hope carried out a successful surgery to correct the double cleft lip and to prepare the left upper and lower eyelids for the placement of a prosthetic eye in the future. When Sofía was carried out of the OR that day there was not a dry eye in the hospital!
Sofía and her family have become part of the IEP family. They are more than grateful for the support of our Guatemalan staff. They even asked IEP’s Director of Guatemala Operations, Keshy de Godoy, and her husband to be Sofía’s godparents. Dr. Barcelo and Dr. Corona have agreed to return to Guatemala in the future for more surgeries on the palate and eye socket.
IEP is honored and humbled to perform life-changing surgeries for children like Sofía. The generosity of our volunteers, partners, and donors make these miracles of hope possible.
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