Many people ask what it’s like to have a cleft lip and palate, my answer is always the same… I don’t know what it’s like not to have had one, however what I do know is how fortunate I was to receive the care I did from the day I was born. In the UK the care provided by cleft teams is world-renowned, it is so easy to take for granted the healthcare we receive from dedicated professionals without whom my life would have been very different. Whilst everything about my care was excellent there were obviously times during my childhood when I would be picked on at school or have unkind comments made about my appearance, however this was just part of the journey to my amazing result, the ability to be able to speak and socialise normally and the confidence successful treatment provides a patient is indescribable.

I was lucky that my surgery was generally straightforward and without complications, I had a lip repair at three months and at six months a palate repair. This was followed by an alveolar bone graft at 8 years old and nose surgery at sixteen, alongside this I received orthodontic treatment from approximately 7 years old into my teenage years. However treatment is about much more than primary surgery, there were many multidisciplinary team appointments to attend throughout my childhood and this required time away from school and the dedication of my parents to get me to appointments. The long term care and follow up is so important for successful treatment and I believe the outcome of my treatment has been outstanding.

Kirstie and her husband