Anthony pre-surgery
Anthony Coca at three months old, prior to surgical repair.

Daniella Coca’s son Anthony was born with both a cleft lip and palate. Coca was five months pregnant when she received the diagnosis after a 3-D ultrasound, which afforded her and Anthony’s father several months to meet John Teichgraeber, MD, and his team, determine a plan of action and better prepare themselves emotionally for the journey ahead. According to Coca, the team’s clinical coordinators in Dr. Teichgraeber’s office played an integral role in helping her cope. “I still keep in close contact with both ladies. They were so understanding, responsive and supportive. They helped me better understand what to expect during the first year of Anthony’s life and provided encouragement along the way. They were like my best friends and therapists all rolled in one.”

Anthony post-surgery
Anthony at three-weeks post-surgery.

Anthony had surgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, undergoing a simultaneous lip and nose repair by Dr. Teichgraeber, ear tube placement by pediatric otolaryngologist Sancak Yuksel, MD, and perineal anoplasty for a secondary medical condition unrelated to the clefts by Charles Cox, MD, director of the department of Pediatric Surgery. “I was overwhelmed when I first saw Anthony’s face. My emotions were everywhere,” said Coca. “I was absolutely shocked at how different he looked and what a great job Dr. Teichgraeber did. Anthony looked like a different baby. If you didn’t know he had a cleft lip and palate, you would not be able to tell.”

Today, Anthony’s prognosis is good, and his hearing has greatly improved. Coca is confident in his ability to bounce back from his future surgeries, with the cleft palate repair scheduled to occur this summer. “He is such a strong baby, and he recovers so quickly,” said Coca. “It has been really hard, but ultimately, I know that I am very blessed.”

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