Mia Update: Kylie Jenner's Hosts Still on Cleft Journey

A patient’s mother on how Smile Train partners treated her daughter

Luz and Mia holding a picture of themselves with Kylie and Kris Jenner

In 2017, Smile Train Ambassador Kylie Jenner and her mother, Kris, visited our partners and patients in Lima, Peru — including meeting our recent patient Mia and her mother, Luz, in their home. We recently caught up with the family and Luz shared their story.

We found out Mia would have a cleft one month before she was born. Hearing the news was painful — of course it was — but before I could even shed one tear, my doctor told me, “Stay calm because there is a surgery she can receive that will heal her while she’s still a baby.”

That was nice for him to say, but I couldn’t stay calm. Where could my baby get this surgery? Even if I found it, my family struggles to make ends meet — how would we ever afford it? The doctor said nothing about any of this. Though so much inside of me wanted to cry and collapse into a heap of worry, I had to be strong so I could seek help for my little girl. I started asking around, looking for answers, and thankfully, it didn’t take long until a relative of my brother-in-law’s told me there was a place right in Lima, Mision Caritas Felices (MCF), where she could receive the care she needed completely free thanks to an organization called Smile Train. I didn’t know how it would work and it sounded too good to be true, but I had to take the chance for my baby. I reached out to them on Facebook and they responded right away and made an appointment for me to bring Mia in for an evaluation once we came home from the hospital.

Luz holds Mia before cleft surgery
Luz holds Mia just before her surgery

When Mia was born and I saw her cleft, I felt that panic again. But this time, at least, I knew I wasn’t alone and that gave me strength. I was still unsure of what to expect when we made our first visit to MCF together, but as soon as we walked through the door, the entire staff greeted us like family and gave me materials on how to best feed my baby. That’s when I allowed myself to believe that people really can be this kind to strangers, that this really wasn’t too good to be true. My feeling grew warmer when we were led to the examination room and the doctor gave me the best news I’ve ever received: Mia met all the health requirements to have her free cleft surgery when she turned six months old, one of the earliest possible times. He scheduled us right then and there.

Though I’ve learned that many babies with clefts struggle to eat and put on weight, Mia, thankfully, continued to eat well and stay healthy because only her lip had a cleft and not her palate.

Luz and Mia meet Kris and Kylie Jenner
Luz and Mia meet Kris and Kylie Jenner

A few weeks before Mia’s surgery, Dianne Erquiaga, Smile Train’s Program Director for South America, called to give me the second biggest shock of my life: Kylie and Kris Jenner would be visiting MCF the day of Mia’s surgery and wanted to meet her.

Well, how could I say no to that?

Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Mia, and the Smile Train partner who performed Mia's cleft surgery
Kris Jenner holds Mia alongside Kylie Jenner and Mia's Smile Train's partner surgeon

The women were kind and gentle with my baby and really seemed to be pulling for her success. I felt we shared a true moment of connection when they came home with us after Mia was discharged, and it was a something my family will never forget.

Mia smiling after her cleft surgery
Mia today

Mia had no complications after the surgery. She ate with a good appetite and continued to grow up healthy and strong. Today, she plays well with her older brothers and is a good sharer. She is also a fast learner and loves school — when the pandemic came, she adapted to virtual school like it was nothing. And she’s only four years old!

As a mom who knows the panic that comes with learning your baby will have a cleft, I encourage other mothers receiving the news to be strong and to try their best to move forward. Clefts are not a disease, they can be overcome; and if you ask for help, you will find it, like my family did from Smile Train. Above all else, though you may feel helpless, you must keep calm and focus on getting your child what she needs to get ahead and be healthy.

Thank you, Smile Train.

Give hope, strength, and healing to children with clefts and their families.

Donate now

Our Impact in Peru

as of December 2021


cleft surgeries sponsored since 2001


active partner surgeons


active partner hospitals