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Finding out your first child would be born with a birth defect was a completely overwhelming experience. The thought ran through our minds: What did we do wrong to cause this? But the answer was simple: not a single thing. We found out in the middle of my pregnancy that our little boy would be born with a cleft lip and were uncertain if a cleft palate would be involved.
At the time, so many fears crossed our minds: would he need a feeding tube, would he gain weight, what do we say to the people who stare at him? These concerns continued until the moment we laid eyes on him. Once we did, I knew none of those concerns mattered. He would eat just fine, and it didn’t matter what people thought of him – because in our eyes, he was perfect.
We were blessed to hear of Dr. Michael Friel at Ochsner and his passion for cleft repair from three different providers. Our family lives in McComb, Mississippi, and it was awesome to learn that Dr. Friel sees patients not only in New Orleans, but also so close to our home at the McComb Children’s Clinic. Upon our first encounter, we instantly gained a sense of trust and respect for the surgeon who would give our baby a new smile.
On the day of surgery, I remember a bittersweet feeling. We had grown to love that precious gummy smile and were going to miss it, but I also knew the repair was necessary. Surgery went smoothly and we could not have asked for a better post-op experience from our care team. We’ve been able to do all of our follow up appointments here in McComb, which means that my husband and I are able to save more of our PTO for vacations rather than traveling to and from doctor appointments. Our lives have been forever changed by Dr. Friel and his team, and we know our little boy’s smile will brighten the world!
*The Ochsner - Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center partnership brings providers like Dr. Friel to McComb, MS as part of the partners’ shared commitment to enhanced access to specialists and pediatric subspecialists for residents in McComb and the surrounding communities.