Child of the Month
By Rich Petersen
Juan Pablo Perez Flores

     Juan Pablo is now almost six months old and lives in Ajijic with his mother and family. At the age of just two months his mother brought him to Niños Incapacitados to show us his hare lip and ask about help. Fortunately, Mexico has a statewide program that pays for corrective surgery for all children born with this defect. Juan Pablo’s mother had already investigated this through the Hospital Civil in Guadalajara, but needed help paying for dental prostheses (about one per month as he grows) to ensure that the palate remains open prior to surgery. Otherwise, the palate will close, making surgery much more difficult. The program is also paying for blood tests prior to surgery, and transportation to and from Guadalajara.
     Cleft lip and palate are common abnormalities, occurring approximately once in every 600 births. Treatment aims first to reassure the parents with “before and after” photographs to emphasize the successful outcome of corrective surgery. Feeding problems can be helped by using a soft teat with an enlarged hole, nursing the baby up right and palatal prostheses as necessary. Surgical repair aims to correct the cleft lip at three months of age, and the palate at six months or later. Too early repair may ultimately interfere with the growth of the mid-face. In later years, the help of specialists may be required to overcome Eustachian tube obstruction, speech delay and dental problems.*
     Juan Pablo is growing normally, has a “voracious” appetite according to his mother María del Carmen, and is developmentally sound. His surgery would have been performed by now except his blood iron levels are low and need to be built up prior to surgery; at present, surgery is scheduled for late March. In a later column we will update you with new photos of Juan Pablo.
More Help for Children Needed:
     But many other children also need our help. It is heartbreaking to inform you that Niños Incapacitados has reached a financial crisis. At the end of 2005, for the first time in our eleven years of operation, we were forced to stop accepting new children into our program, no matter how desperately ill they were. It has been most difficult to face their parents. Due to increases in medical costs and in the number of children needing support, our fundraising events alone cannot cover all the costs of providing medical assistance for these poor children. With your help, we can tell these parents that hope is on the way.
     The solution is simple. It simply takes many people, like you, to show compassion through a donation. Your donation will provide a life-changing opportunity for one or more children. Quite simply, if we do not help these terribly ill children, no one else will. Last year we spent $599,000 pesos for medical treatment of 175 children. For 2006 we project we will spend over $750,000 pesos. We don’t want to turn away needy children in 2006. With your help, we will not have to.
     Niños Incapacitados has just launched its 2006 Donor Drive for new members and supporters. For information on how to make a donation, check out our website at or contact our Donor Drive Co-Chairs, Brian and Margaret Quinn at 766-4094 or
     If you would like to find out more about our organization, please feel free to attend our monthly meetings on the first Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. (September through June) at La Nueva Posada in Ajijic. Our group is looking for new members, volunteers and donors to help our Mexican families in need.
     * Special thanks to Sandy Fowler, MD for his information on cleft lip and palate.