Nearly 1 in 600 infants will be born with a cleft, or opening, in the lip or palate. These openings can lead to speech, auditory, nutritional, and dental difficulties for the child. While there may be a heredity component to the formation of cleft lip and palate, the exact cause remains unknown, making prevention difficult. Multiple surgeries and long-term treatment can repair the problem, however, they can cost upwards of $100,000 and more trained doctors are needed.
Smiley Faces Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery’s Cleft Lip & Palate Clinic located at NYU Langone Medical Center. Formed in 2009 by Adam Bell, the Foundation raises awareness as well as funds to assist the Institute in providing proper treatment for all children in need of cleft lip and palate repair throughout the United States.
The cause of cleft lip and palate repair is a personal one for Adam Bell and his wife, Donna. In 2005, their youngest son, Ethan, was born with a fairly severe unilateral cleft lip and palate. The Bells were fortunate to have a pediatrician refer them to the NYU Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, the worldwide leader in cleft treatment and repair. A few years—and two successful surgeries—later, Ethan is one of the happiest little boys in the world and is always quick with a big smile. Adam and Donna owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to the NYU Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.