Help Families Receive Expert Care
Katie and RJ Garcia learned their unborn baby girl, Rory, had a cleft lip and palate during a prenatal ultrasound. Katie had all the normal questions a mom would have upon hearing the news of Rory’s cleft. Did her baby have any genetic abnormalities? Was her daughter going to be ok? The expert, compassionate team at the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center stepped in immediately to answer those critical questions and many more.
Though Katie is a nurse, she and her husband had so much to learn before Rory was born. She would not be able to breast feed and Rory’s nutrition and weight would have to be closely monitored.
“I breast fed my first daughter but Rory needed special bottles. Without Barrow I never would have known that.” says Katie. “She did great!”
The Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center was founded in 1986 to provide a comprehensive team approach to care. Health professionals in more than 15 specialties including plastic surgery, neurosurgery, orthodontics, speech pathology, and psychology. In addition to addressing the patient’s physical difference, the Center emphasizes the psychological health of the entire family.
Katie says the first year of Rory’s life was hard. Katie was sleep deprived. She spent a lot of time on the phone with her mother, who is also a nurse. They talked about Rory’s progress, whether she was ok, if she was gaining enough weight, and if she needed to see the doctor.
After Rory’s first surgery Katie and her mom cried but for contrasting reasons.
“My mom and my husband were crying because she looked so good,” says Katie. “I was crying because she looked so different, I wondered where my baby went.”
There would be several more surgeries before Rory turned one year-old and there are many more to follow. Katie has learned a lot she didn’t know about cleft lip and palate. She learned that Barrow treats children according to their needs and not by a cookie cutter approach. She learned Rory’s childhood with physical differences is a marathon not a sprint. She also learned she could always count on Rory’s care team, even by phone and email.
The Garcias live in Tucson and come up to the Center a couple of times a year for regular check-ups. But when COVID-19 hit, Rory’s speech therapy session converted into a telemedicine visit.
“It was a great session. They had games to play,” says Katie. “I was pretty darn impressed.”
Katie wants any child who needs the expertise of the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center to have access to their expert care. Please join her in supporting Barrow’s efforts to expand capacity for dedicated speech therapy, psychology, and social work spaces to assist in providing the best care for babies, children, teens, and young adults, like Rory.