DSC_9128Juan Diego is turning two tomorrow and our Rotaplast team gave him a birthday present that will change his life forever. Betty is Juan Diego's foster mom. Pereira-based Fundación Sonríe invited her to bring Juan Diego to our mission to correct his cleft lip. In another year he will be ready to have his cleft palate repaired. She is very thankful for the amazing work of Rotaplast.

Betty, whose husband is a nurse, quit her teaching job to devote herself to caring for special needs and abused children. Over time she has given love to seven foster children and two of her own. Five months ago, Juan Diego came to her because his parents did not have the money to care for him.

Betty has become completely taken with Juan Diego and is interested in caring for more kids with clefts.  She wants to show that children with clefts are just like other kids. "I like my job, it's about dedication and patience."

Juan Diego and Betty were already waiting at the hospital when the Rotaplast team arrived at 6:30 am. Here is how the day progressed. DSC_9137

Dr. Albert Goldberg, pediatrician, reviews Juan Diego's medical exam information that was gathered at the pre-op clinic. DSC_9140







He then explains exactly what the procedure will entail and what Betty should expect when she sees him after the surgery in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit). DSC_9134

Ward coordinator, Ellen Boesner, marks Juan Diego's arm with his name and medical chart number for positive patient identification. He is then dressed in a hospital gown. DSC_9144





Dr. Ron Gemberling will be performing the surgery. He checks in with Betty and Juan Diego to provide more explanation and to make a caring connection before he is taken into the operating room by the anesthesiologist.


Even knowing that your baby is receiving the best care available, it's still a nervous moment when he disappears behind the door. Local volunteers, Mariana Giraldo and Alejandra Fonseca reassure and comfort Betty. Nevertheless, it's a very emotional moment.



Juan Diego's cleft was closed by bringing together the two sides of his upper lip, over his premaxilla, the protuberance in the front of his upper jaw. Dr. John Lee monitors the anesthesia.


Juan Diego is still asleep when Betty comes into the recovery room. A kiss from mom is the first order of business.


Mom and dad keep some oxygen flowing in front of Juan Diego as he slowly emerges from the anesthesia.

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The final beautiful result.

Jerry Meshulam, Photojournalist