Nogales, Arizona

Annual Cleft Palate/Cleft Lip Mission


Each October since 2005, St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic has partnered with Children’s Surgery International of Minneapolis and CIMA Hospital in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico in the Annual Cleft Palate/Cleft Lip Mission. This mission focuses on children who cannot get the care or afford the care they need in their home country.

Prior to 2014, 2 days were allotted for surgeries on 40-45 children with the number of surgeries depending on the type and extent of surgery needed for each child. In 2014, due to generous funding from the Apgar Foundation, we were able to expand to 3 days of surgery. Again in 2015, we were privileged to have this funding. Fifty-one children were scheduled for surgery, and some children had more than one surgery so total surgeries were about 60. Procedures performed were: cleft lip surgeries, cleft palate surgeries, septorhinoplasty/rhinoplasty, speech surgery, tooth extractions, and bone graft surgeries. Click on the link at the end of this article to see photographs of these patients prior to surgery.

One constraint on number of surgery days is that CIMA is a first-class working hospital so number of days we are there decreases the number of days they have for their own patients. We are fortunate that CIMA offers us a discounted rate to use their facilities.

This mission is greatly facilitated by the St. Andrew’s Children’s clinic staff and volunteers and CIMA’s Voluntariado, ladies from all walks of life who give their time free of charge at CIMA hospital. St. Andrew’s staff and volunteers and Voluntariado organize the files, do necessary paperwork, translate for medical staff and families, photograph the children, and entertain the children who sometimes wait all day to see a doctor.

The first day of The Mission is spent in examining patients. Those hoping for surgery must undergo pediatric and ear, nose, and throat exams to show they are healthy enough and weigh enough for surgery. Some children return for a follow-up exam from previous surgery. Some are checked to see if their bones have matured enough for further surgery. In 2015, we screened 100 children.

The second, third, and fourth days are surgery days. The fifth day is a wrap-up day for doctors and patients finalizing recuperation from the previous day’s surgery. Several different types of surgery are performed depending on the child’s needs: cleft lip, cleft palate, bone graft, rhinoplasty, and dental extraction. If a child has both cleft lip and cleft palate, these are usually done as two different surgeries in different years. Also, depending on the severity of the cleft palate, the child may have 2-6 surgeries to repair the palate. One commitment this Mission has been able to make is additional surgery for a child as needed.

The end result is healthier children and beautiful smiles. St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic provides nutritional and feeding advice and speech therapy as needed. CIMA Voluntariado financially support speech therapy for children in the Hermosillo area. We are proud to be part of this partnership which helps so many children living in Mexico.

Links to photos and more information

View before and after photos 2015

View pre-surgery photos of 2015 patients

Read the CSI blog. about our mission. There are 2 articles about the Mission both under the October heading.