This is Gia. Gia was born in 2012. During my pregnancy, the doctors never saw anything wrong with Gia, but on the day she was born, we held her and quickly noticed that her upper lip was not normal. It wasn’t open, like a cleft lip, but it was not normal. I could see the nurses and doctor were concerned, so they quickly took her and started examining her. During this time, I couldn’t hold or see my little baby girl because they were doing a million things to her. When they finally explained to us what was wrong, we were in shock! Gia was born with a mid-cleft and open palate, Turner syndrome, and developmental delays.

When we learned about Gia’s condition, the doctors explained that her cleft was rare, her upper lip was attached to her gum and she had a huge hole on her palate. To see that was heartbreaking. Some of Gia’s other facial features didn’t form correctly, affecting her eyesight and her brain. She is now blind. When they told us that Gia was going to need surgery to fix her cleft palate, it was soooo hard, but we knew we were in great hands at Loma Linda children’s hospital. We spent a week in the hospital–making sure she was able to eat correctly with special bottles that had a longer nipple than I had never seen. I was so scared about feeding her because I knew about the many possibilities that could cause an infection. Thank God that never happened. She had her surgery when she was 1-year-old, and it was the hardest, but greatest day of our lives. They were able to fix her palate in an amazing way, and her lip turned out so beautiful.

Gia is going to be 7 soon. She eats whatever she wants and just last year, she learned to use a straw…that was huge!! She’s learning so much at school with her cane and she plays the piano. SHE IS AMAZING!!! ACPA has helped us understand that we’re not alone and I hope that Gia’s story inspires someone to not give up.