Surgery Changes Life of Orphaned Child Born with Cleft Palate

Major medical procedures happening in Dallas are changing the lives of children whose outlooks seemed bleak.

Children with disabilities born in China are often discarded by their parents, according to the surgical mission organization LEAP, but some of these kids are able to get a second chance here in the United States.

LEAP says children born with a cleft lip and cleft palate have little chance of getting adopted after their family sends them to an orphanage.

The birth condition of a cleft lip and palate is an opening of the lip and in the roof of the mouth.

It requires surgery, and now one special little boy is in Dallas from China for the surgery that will change his life.

Victor, 9, was abandoned by his family back home in China when he was one day old because of his cleft lip palate.

He was all smiles when NBC 5 visited him with his host family because he had cleft palate surgery two weeks ago.

"He lived a tough life. Other children were afraid of him because of the way he looked, and he didn't understand this. He just dreamed of the day he could look like other kids, and fortunately that day has come," said Dr. Craig Hobar, the board certified plastic surgeon who performed his surgery.

"It has just made my heart so full that they've been able to repair his face so that he has a chance to have a wonderful, beautiful life," said Melissa Howell, a volunteer with LEAP and Victor's host mother.

Victor will have to return to China, but the organization hopes that a family in the United States will adopt him.

LEAP says, to date, it has brought 45 children from 14 countries to the U.S. for life-changing surgeries.

MORE: LEAP surgical mission organization

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