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General Hospital, A Place for Happy Faces

Mamá de Josué

Angelina Juan Diego y Josué

Dr. Jeffrey Marshall

Angelina Juan Diego y Josué

By Jesús Aguado

Statistically one in every 700 children is born with a cleft lip and palate. However, a multidisciplinary army in Celaya is always ready to change lives of children who come from humble families. Without the surgeon’s help, they would have to live a life not only with dental problems, but also with complications of hearing, eating, and communication. Fortunately for them, Smile Train, the General Hospital Felipe Dobarganes, and Cara Feliz exist.

Cara Feliz and Smile Train

It takes a multidisciplinary team to deal with the malformation, including a psychologist for traumas that the cleft lip could generate, a dentist to work on teeth that do not grow straight, an audiologist to determine hearing problems, and plastic surgeons like Dr. Manuel Velázquez and Dr. Fidel Berlanga, who have been working together for 33 years.

Cara Feliz is a nonprofit organization that emerged in Celaya with the sole purpose of helping children with cleft lip and palate malformation. The main goal of the organization is to help the patient to have a normal life in society, including going to school, getting a job, and even getting married without complexes, commented Dr. Berlanga, director of the organization, during the Third Surgery Campaign held at the public hospital. Thirty children benefited and will be under observation until they are ready for rhinoplasty.

Cara Feliz is based in Celaya, on the grounds of the municipal DIF on the Boulevard Adolfo López Mateos. In this clinic, commented Dr. Velázquez, hundreds of surgeries have been performed, not just for children of San Miguel and Celaya, but from the entire state and even from Querétaro, Oaxaca, and Morelia.

Four years ago, Dr. Berlanga invited Dr. Jeffrey Marshall to give a lecture during a conference of plastic surgeons specializing in cleft lip and palate malformations. After the lecture, Dr. Marshall, retired from Washington University, fell in love with San Miguel and decided to support the team. Since then, he comes yearly to train the local surgeons to perform better surgeries for more successful results.

“We are a group of plastic surgeons who perform this work voluntarily,” noted Dr. Berlanga. In addition, he said that statistics note that one in every 700 children is born with this problem. Even during the campaign, a child was born at the hospital last February with the malformation. According to Dr. Marshall, children like these deserve care and attention from the professionals of these two organizations so they can have a normal life in the future.

Josue’s Mother

Josue’s mother, Angelina Juan Diego, comes from a low income family in San Miguel Octopan in Celaya. She talked to Atención excitedly. She did not have words to express how happy she was for all the support she has received from the surgeons. “The doctors have a deep love for my two children, and I cannot imagine what I would do without their help,” she said. When Josué was three months old, he was taken to Cara Feliz in Celaya. He had a bilateral cleft lip and palate and a renal disorder as well that prevented him from growing. Members of the organization looked for help from other experts to allow Josué to gain more weight for the surgery. According to the doctors, the results have been “fabulous,” and he will soon have palate surgery.

Getting ready to go into the operating room, Josué visited some members of the press. He greeted us with two hands and then hid in his mother’s arms. Josue’s two-year-old sister was also in the operating room, receiving surgery to eliminate a cleft lip.

At the General Hospital

Dr. Jorge Vidargas Rojas, director of the hospital, received recognition from Smile Train, thanks to great attention and assistance from the members of the hospital to the patients and the volunteers. Dr. Velázquez said that, besides giving great attention, the hospital is well equipped with first class materials for helping those most in need of specialized surgery.

During a period of four days, 30 children were identified with similar malformations, and multiple surgeries were performed. When the children turn 17, they will be candidates for the final touch, rhinoplasty. The members of Cara Feliz welcome all children with this type of malformation at the clinic in Celaya. It does not matter if they have financial resources or not.


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