On Saturday a pretty girl named Marielys Salazar had surgery for Mobius syndrome. Mobius syndrome is extremely rare, and children with the syndrome are unable to smile or show emotion due to lack of facial nerve function. Imagine how difficult it must be for Marielys if she cannot express her happiness to her family and friends. Children born with this syndrome also have difficulty speaking and swallowing.   


Gemma, Marielys’ Speech Pathologist, met her a few years ago when she went to help with her speech.  Gemma learned that when Marielys was a baby, she was given some medicine orally to calm her for an MRI procedure.  Unfortunately, Marielys has difficulty swallowing and aspirated the medicine, and almost died!  The doctors told her parents that she was allergic to anesthesia, and for this reason, her parents were afraid to get any surgical help for Marielys.

Gemma wanted to help Marielys so much that she convinced her parents to test her for allergic reaction to anesthesia and it was discovered that she was not allergic.  Gemma heard that a Rotaplast mission was coming to Cumana, and persuaded Mariely’s parents to bring her to our clinic.  Luckily, for Marielys, one of our surgeons, Dr. David Low, a surgeon from the University of Pennsylvania, was willing to try a complicated procedure that could change her life.  The muscle that controls her chewing, still had function, so Dr. Low decided to separate that muscle and attach part of it to the inside of her mouth.  Hopefully, after recovery and with time, when she clenches her mouth it will enable her to smile.

A smile is such a powerful way to communicate how you feel.  Can you imagine how difficult it is to be unable to show the world that you feel happy? Thanks to Gemma, David Low, and a great deal of team work this young girl now has a chance for a better life.

submitted by Maureen Knabb