Parents credit St. Mary's Hospital for baby's successful cleft lip surgery

Parents credit St. Mary's Hospital for baby's successful cleft lip surgery

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A couple whose baby was born with a cleft lip is crediting St. Mary's Hospital for what their baby boy looks like now.

Stefanie Bolls was 19 and a half weeks pregnant when she got an ultrasound and found out her child had a cleft lip.

"We were going there to find out the sex of the baby and we found out he was a boy from the ultrasound tech," said Martin Bolls, Stefanie's husband. "And she did go over his face a couple of times and I kind of saw something but I didn't know how good the technology was. As soon as we walked into the doctors office she was like 'I'm going to give it to you guys straight and not waste any time, he has a cleft lip.'"

This baby would be Stefanie and Martin Bolls' first and they were at a loss and didn't know where to turn, especially when they saw what a cleft lip was and what could happen when one is identified.

With a cleft lip can come a cleft palette and other issues that can cause the baby to have problems eating and eventually speaking.

"My OBGYN recommended the cleft and cranial specialists to us at St. Mary's cleft and cranial facial team," Bolls said. "They told us whenever there is a cleft issue the organ that can be involved is the heart, so they were really checking that and hands and feet for club feet issues."

At St. Mary's, the Bolls' were introduced to Dr. Sharline Aboutanos, who became their doctor. She monitored the baby until he was born.

They named the baby Silas.

He was born with a cleft on the left and right side of his mouth but no other issues that typically come with one. He would have to wait three months before Dr. Aboutanos could do surgery.

"We feel very fortunate it was just his lip. We got to a point where we were like do we really need to do this?" Bolls said. "No one wants to see their kid get surgery and go under the knife."

But they decided to and Dr. Aboutanos fixed then three months after he was born, conducted surgery to fix his cleft lip.

"The goal is to realign the skin and the muscle and the lining of the upper lip," Aboutanos said.

The surgery was successful, but the weeks of recovery were tiresome especially because Silas had to wear arm guards and a bar over his face.

"Two weeks recovery was really stressful for us but not for him. He was still smiling," Bolls said.

The Bolls family credit the team at St. Mary's and early detection for this positive outcome.

"To me we got to get a little bit of a head start and get ourselves prepared," Bolls said. "It wasn't like he was born and we didn't know it and then we were scrambling to find a surgical team."

A cleft lip is one of the most common birth defects. The CDC estimates that in the United States over 4,000 babies are born with a cleft lip every year.

As for little Silas, his next follow up appointment isn't until next year and there are no more surgeries in his future.

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