Zane, a three-year-old boy, brings so much joy to his parents, Anacleto and Russel. Like many children, he loves to sing, dance, and play the guitar just like his father. However, unlike many children, Zane was born with a cleft lip and palate.
According to Smile Train, one in every 500 Filipinos is born with a cleft. This is a birth defect that occurs when the baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. This condition can cause difficulties in breathing, speaking, and eating, as well as social isolation and discrimination. This is something that
Anacleto has witnessed firsthand from his friend with an untreated cleft.
“I grew up with a friend with an untreated cleft, and it was so difficult for us to understand him, and he was prone to bullying. Now that cyberbullying is rampant because of social media affecting one’s self-esteem, confidence, and mental health, I don’t want my son to go through that. This is also why I wanted Zane to be treated as early as possible so he won’t experience discrimination and bullying once he grows up,” Anacleto shared.
After researching and consulting with doctors, they learned about Tebow CURE Children’s Hospital (Tebow CURE) and its sponsored surgeries for children with treatable conditions such as cleft lip and palate. Our generous sponsors and partners helped Zane receive much-needed surgery. At the height of the COVID pandemic in April 2020, doctors surgically repaired Zane’s lip. A few months later, they performed a second surgery to repair his cleft palate. Today, Zane is a happy, healthy, and active child, and one can barely recognize his cleft. The results were amazing and, according to Anacleto, “We can barely notice any trace of lip defect or speech problems.”
However, the journey was not an easy one for the family. Russel shares, “As a mother, I was super emotional when we heard a lot of criticism that shook our faith. In our past experience, Zane was already discriminated against even while he was still in the NICU. We would observe that other babies crying for milk were immediately attended to, but it would take a while before Zane would be attended to,” she revealed. This is a sad reality for many children born with cleft lip and palate, as they often face discrimination and bullying from a young age.
Zane’s healing journey has affected not only his physical health but also his family’s emotional and spiritual well-being for the better. At Tebow CURE, spiritual, social, and psychosocial needs of children and their families are addressed through bedside counseling, and counseling through art and play therapy. When asked about their experience at Tebow CURE and how it has shaped their faith, Anacleto shared, “My understanding of God’s grace grew deeper as we experienced Zane’s healing. I was reminded of the story of the man born blind in John 9. I was reminded that God has allowed this to happen so that God’s glory may be seen and evident through Zane’s healing journey.”
Russel also shared how their journey has strengthened their faith, “Through our experience, I got to appreciate God’s Word all the more, and I was reminded that my identity and my son’s identity is not based on what people say or think but on what God says in His Word.”
When CURE recently visited Zane and his family, we were delighted as we saw the transformation that had taken place in his life. Zane now stands tall with a wide smile, playing the drums and following the footsteps of his dad, who serves on the worship team. Russel and Anacleto no longer carry the burden of their son’s condition and the uncertainty of his future. Truly, a beautiful picture of hope and restoration.
With the support and partnership of generous donors like Smile Train and many others, children born with cleft lip and palate can receive the comprehensive and holistic care they need to live a full life as Jesus promised in John 10:10 says. We are grateful for the transformation that has taken place in Zane’s life and the lives of so many others like him. Zane’s journey with us has not yet ended as he will be continuing with speech therapy as part of our comprehensive cleft care services.
Click here to learn more about how to partner with CURE in providing compassionate surgical care to children like Zane.
Tebow CURE’s mission is to provide every child living with a disability the physical, emotional, and spiritual care they need to heal. If you have questions about becoming a patient or a partner with CURE, please contact us.