Children's Minnesota team works to treat cleft lips and palates

Children's Minnesota team works to treat cleft lips and palates

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's a condition that's quite rare, but one of the most common to go undetected before birth.

One baby in 700 is born with a cleft lip. A young woman recently finished a 20-year treatment journey.

Ellie Thompson was born in China and raised in Minnetonka.

"My mom adopted me and she had me on her knee and I was laughing and you could see all the way through to my nasal passage because there was no palate," Thompson said.

She was always loved, but felt different. 

"I remember in kindergarten, kids would, my friends would be really curious and say 'hey why do you have a scar on your lip?'" she said.

A cleft lip palate is a condition where the tissues during pregnancy begin to migrate and that tissue movement stops. It's a condition that Dr. Robert Tibesar has dedicated his life to.

His own daughter was born with a cleft lip, and as a new medical student, he decided to devote his career to treating it - and that's what he does with a cleft lip palate team at Children's Minnesota. 

"I always want to encourage parents if a child has a cleft palate, there is hope," said Tibesar. 

Thompson just finished college at Middlebury in Vermont, and started a new finance job in Baltimore. Despite her condition, she's facing unconditional success.

"It made me more resilient but it just made me more prepared for whatever comes next in my life," Thompson said.

Thompson wants to raise awareness about cleft lips, so more people understand why some people have facial differences. Children's Minnesota now offers prenatal care for the condition. 

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