by tony di martino
SLUCARE PHOTO COURTESY OF SLUCARE
Lin performs multiple cleft surgeries per week. “Repairing a severe cleft can
PEOPLE DIDN’T MEAN TO BE UNKIND. But they couldn’t help but gasp
when they first saw little Sophia Goodrich. She was born with cleft lip, nose and involve reshaping the bones of the skull, face and jaw, as well as the cartilage and
palate, a condition in which the lip, nose and roof of the mouth don’t form properly soft tissues of the face, ears, lips, palate and tongue,” he explains. The center’s
during fetal development. The infant had wide gaps in that area of her face. “I knew team approach includes specialists in physical and occupational therapy, speech
something was wrong when I saw the sonogram, even before I noticed if she was a pathology, orthodontics, audiology and other fields, for comprehensive care of all
boy or a girl,” recalls mom Alycia Goodrich.
the issues that can arise from cleft lip and/or palate.
The baby’s pediatrician advised the Goodriches to take
“All of us work together, making sure your child
Sophia to St. Louis Cleft-Craniofacial Center at SSM Cardinal
receives the best care.”
Glennon Children’s Medical Center. The center is staffed by
Treatment is customized to meet specific needs.
experts from SLUCare, the physicians of Saint Louis University.
Sophia, for example, underwent three surgeries
“We fix the things that make us human,” says director Dr.
during her first year. “The first reduced the gap in her
Alexander Lin, assistant professor, division of plastic surgery,
lip and nose, the second reconstructed those areas,
at Saint Louis University and section chief of pediatric plastic
and the third repaired her palate so her speech could
surgery at Cardinal Glennon. “Children are fragile. If they look
develop normally,” Lin says. Surgeries are carefully
and sound different from other kids, it affects their psychosocial
scheduled to give realigned tissues time to grow.
development, sense of identity and self-esteem. Our goal is to
“In the future she’ll probably need orthodontics and
help them look, speak and function more normally.”
bone grafts to her upper jaw and gums, like most
About one in every 600 babies is born with a cleft lip SOPHIA GOODRICH, BEFORE AND AFTER.
kids with clefts,” he adds.
and/or palate, making it the most common congenital birth
Today, aside from twice-weekly speech therapy sessions to treat a slight
defect. The condition can cause severe facial deformities, feeding problems, speech defect, you’d never know that Sophia has been through so much. “She’s a feisty,
defects, misaligned teeth, poor growth and hearing problems. A cleft lip can range adorable 3-year-old,” her mother says. “Now the whole world can see how
in severity from a small gap to a complete split that extends to the base of the nose; beautiful she is. She’ll face the future with confidence, thanks to her wonderful
a cleft palate can affect one or both sides of the mouth, including gums and jaws.
ST. LOUIS CLEFT-CRANIOFACIAL CENTER IS LOCATED AT SSM CARDINAL GLENNON CHILDREN’S MEDICAL CENTER. PICTURED ON THE COVER: SOPHIA GOODRICH AND HER SURGEON,
DR. ALEXANDER LIN. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 314.977.4440 OR VISIT SLUCARE.EDU/PLASTICSURGERY.
COVER DESIGN BY SARAH GIBSON | COVER PHOTO COURTESY OF SLUCARE
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| APRIL 30, 2014