Stories about: Bonnie Padwa

Kyle Cooper waits 18 years for oral surgery

Kyle

Monday through Saturday, Kyle Cooper wakes up at 5:40 in the morning to get to his construction job by 7:00. On his only day off, he shoots trap at the local sportsman’s club with his grandfather. Things that would bother a typical teen—a long commute, arduous work, little time off for friends—barely faze Kyle. This 18-year-old has the quiet confidence and patience of someone twice his age.

Kyle’s demeanor may be due in part to having had to wait a lifetime for something he wanted so badly. He was born with hemifacial microsomia (HFM), a craniofacial anomaly that resulted in the left side of his face being underdeveloped. The cause of HFM is not well understood. Until this past February, what HFM meant for Kyle was that his face was noticeably uneven and barely any of his teeth touched. “I made it through and got used to it, but I couldn’t eat things like meat because it would take me three hours to chew.”

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Vivian’s story: From baby with a cleft lip to confident adult

Vivian shares her story of cleft lip repair.Silvia Pereira was pregnant for the first time in 1986 when a routine ultrasound revealed that she was carrying a baby girl with a cleft lip. In her early twenties and newly emigrated from Honduras, Silvia decided to keep the condition a secret because she was unsure of how her family would react. “I didn’t even know what a cleft lip was; I didn’t care how she came out; I just wanted my baby.”

When baby Vivian arrived, her husband Dennis was in disbelief: “If you’ve never seen a cleft lip, it’s pretty shocking. I asked myself, what’s going on? Is this my fault, is it my genes?”

Twenty-eight years later, Vivian reflects on her birth story: “Luck was never on my side. My first obstacle in life was being born.”

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