Skip to navigation

What we're up to

news News Tuesday, January 2, 2018 Tuesday, January 2, 2018 12:46 PM - Tuesday, January 2, 2018 12:46 PM

Alan smiles confidently after positive experience at Houston Shriners Hospital

Cleft lip and palate patient reflects on care and support

Alan smiles confidently after positive experience at Houston Shriners Hospital

Alan is a 21 year old who exudes confidence. After nearly a lifetime as a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children, he shares with us why he seems to always have a smile on his face.

Alan as a baby, before surgeryThis journey begins in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Alan was born with a cleft lip and plate. At around three months of age, he would make the journey from Mexico to Galveston, Texas, to be admitted into the Shriners Hospital system. He shares, “Someone who lived in the United States had told my mom about this hospital that helps kids with different conditions. We ended up calling an aunt of mine who knew a Shriner, and before you know it, they had helped me make it to Galveston”.

After constant follow-up and trips from Mexico to Texas, Alan began receiving treatment at the Houston hospital once the cleft lip and palate program was moved from Galveston. “I was about 10 or 11 when I first started coming to Houston. I would never get bored when I came to the hospital. Actually, I would look forward to it”. Alan shared that as he grow up there was a time period where he began to feel insecure and he encountered bullying growing up, due to his condition.

Throughout his time at the hospital Alan remembers having multiple surgeries, “I’ve had many of them since I was little, most of them I can’t remember. I do remember that around a year ago I wore a halo for three months”. While wearing the halo, Alan pointed out that he could only wear button-down shirts and had to rely mostly on eating food that was either ground or in liquid form. “I think that was one of the toughest things. I would crave other foods – but I knew that it would all pay off in the long run."

Alan wearing halo

Through every surgery and obstacle that this young man faced, he always knew that progress was being made and his condition was improving. Now at age 21, Alan is a university student in Mexico. He studies communications (journalism) and has great interest in politics. When asked what he would tell other patients and families who may be experiencing or will require similar medical care, he shared the following:

“My life has changed thanks to this hospital. My self-esteem went up. I now feel comfortable when socializing with others. I have had lots of improvement. I would tell other kids with cleft lip that sometimes there may be a long path that you have to cross. There may be a long journey with challenges ahead of you. However, in the end it is all worth it. My family sacrificed many things and put a big effort in getting me to Shriners Hospital and helping me be what I am today.”

At the end of our talk, Alan also shared with us that he has many goals, including being a potential ambassador to the hospital and helping those in Mexico. We are certain that anyone this confident will be able to accomplish those goals.