Imanol’s Mother Prayed for Help. Then a Star Showed Her the Way
When no one else could help, “Dr. TV” was there
Carolina couldn’t see Imanol when he was born. The hospital staff whisked him away, then her doctor walked in empty-handed. Every mother’s fear sunk into her mind. Did something happen to her son?
She’ll never forget the words that left her doctor's lips: “Your son was born with a cleft.”
Carolina couldn’t hide her shock. All of the ultrasounds showed Imanol was perfectly healthy. The whole family was unprepared; they had no idea what having a cleft would mean for Imanol and his future. It seemed to come out of nowhere.
The doctor sensed her fears and tried to calm her down. “Science has advanced so much. There’s a solution for clefts now. He can be healed.”
His words comforted her. By the time Carolina nestled Imanol into her arms, she was a little more relaxed. Knowing there was a solution out there was reassuring, even if she had no idea how to find it.
Shooting for the Stars
Carolina had seen people with clefts before, mostly adults who hadn’t had surgery, but she never thought to learn more because she never imagined that it could happen in her family. The hospital wasn’t able to provide much help. She felt stranded.
The first few months were painful. Imanol couldn’t breastfeed properly and had to be fed with a syringe. “It was traumatic,” Carolina said, “because he would choke and after feeding he would burp, making a horrible sound. I thought this would never end.”
The entire family loved Imanol so much; their hearts hurt for him.
A friend of the family had an idea. It seemed like a longshot, but he contacted Dr. TV, a popular Peruvian medical TV show where guests share their medical problems and host Dr. Tomás Borda Noriega connects them with possible solutions.
It worked! The show contacted Carolina and invited her on. There, in front of a national audience, Dr. Tomás introduced her to Smile Train partner Misíon Caritas Felices (MCF), who offered to provide Imanol all of the cleft surgeries he needed. Carolina felt like she was dreaming. Then the news got even better. Thanks to their partnership with Smile Train, every part of Imanol’s treatment would be completely free.
Carolina floated off the set that day in a daze.
Imanol had his cleft lip surgery at seven months thanks to MCF. Carolina spent an hour in the waiting room shaking with fear as Imanol was under the knife. When her baby was finally brought out, all of her anxieties melted away. How could she have been nervous? The results were amazing!
Surgical worries were a thing of the past by the time Imanol got his cleft palate surgery six months later. Everything went smoothly.
A Thriving Childhood
Now Imanol is 11 and flourishing. He is working hard in school, and especially enjoys math. He loves spending quality time with his mother, siblings, and pets, and never says no when someone asks for help. Even when no one asks, Imanol will be there anyway, jumping at the chance to put a smile on someone else’s face. That’s why he dreams of becoming a police officer.
Making friends has always been easy for Imanol. Other children on his block flock to his house to ride bikes around the city and play games with him. And when other kids bother him about his cleft, he pays no attention. With so many friends and loved ones by his side, he doesn’t have time to bother with them.
“I want to give a lot of gratitude to MCF and Smile Train for all the help they have given me and my son. Their help has brought us a great deal of peace of mind, and I am very grateful,” fawns Carolina. “Thank you, Smile Train, for giving my son back his smile.”
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