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Birth Defects Won’t Stop Nine-Year-Old And Grandma


Nine-year-old Aziana Valencia Mendez thinks its “cool” when she sits next to her grandma in the orthodontist’s chairs to get their braces adjusted. A patient at the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center from the day she was born, Aziana and her grandma have a lot more in common than braces.

Melissa Mendez, 47, was born with the same birth defect as her granddaughter, but had only a basic repair surgery at birth and little treatment beyond that. Melissa says she’s happy her daughter introduced her to Aziana’s craniofacial orthodontist at St. Joseph’s Barrow, Patricia Glick, DMD.
 
“I bet there are a lot of people like me, who don’t know they can still get treatment,” says the proud grandmother of three. “They work miracles in this center and I think it’s important for adults with clefts to know there’s still hope. I just started a new job and thanks to Dr. Glick, I’ll have a straighter smile too.”

Dr. Glick says it’s important for people of all ages living with cleft and craniofacial conditions to understand that there are medical treatments still available. “The Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center is very team-oriented, focusing the individual’s needs as well as those of their family,” she explains. “Many patients have parents, grandparents or other family members who are also getting treatment or have had treatment at our center.”

The most common birth defect of the face, cleft lip and palate occurs very early in pregnancy when the gaps in an unborn child’s lips and palate do not close normally. Eating problems, speech difficulties, and self-esteem issues are common among these children. 

A child with cleft lip and palate like Aziana typically undergoes multiple surgeries, and has specialized orthodontic care along with speech therapy and psychological counseling, before turning 21.

“The uniqueness of the Mendez family is in their strong support system,” Dr. Glick adds. “I rarely see a child with this condition be as unaffected and outgoing as Aziana. Thanks to incredible support from her family, Aziana sets a great example of positive self-esteem for other children with cleft lip and palate.”

Currently, the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix is the only American Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Association approved craniofacial program in Arizona. The center cares for adults as well as children. Patients come from throughout Arizona, as well as parts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. 

“Dr. Glick is a wonderful person, who has patience and makes you feel comfortable,” says Mendez. “Our journey at Barrow has brought me and Aziana closer, and I feel blessed she is getting treatment I never had at her age.”

Contact: Sara Baird, 602.406.3312

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