Lauren is a lovely 18 year old that works on Riverside Holiday Village. We want to help her have an operation she so badly needs.
Lauren was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. She had to have specialist bottles, couldn't have a dummy unless it was held in her mouth due to gap but had to have a dummy to help her get used to the sucking motion so that she could cope with the gap. Lauren’s mum used to sit there for hours holding it in as she was sleeping, otherwise it would just fall out.
Lauren has gone through years of speech and language therapy to teach her how to pronounce words due to the placement of her jaw, meaning she couldn't put her tongue behind her teeth to pronounce letters. Like when you're taught in primary school, so she had to learn how to say the letters in a way that could be understood.
Lauren was told about an operation when she was 11 that would change her life. When Lauren was 13 she was told this would be the year(2011), this has happened every year including this one(2019). It has been postponed due to developments or issues (e.g. she hadn't stopped growing enough, her teeth/dental work wasn’t where it should've been etc.).
Then when Lauren was 16 she was told, that due to the gap between her upper and lower jaw being so large that the original operation wouldn't create the necessary results. So would have to change the approach from standard corrective surgery to distraction osteogenesis.
Due to a 2cm gap between her top and bottom jaw this means she cannot have the usual, corrective jaw surgery which would've been tackled in one operation
Lauren needs an operation to apply a frame that will be screwed into her bones in 4 different places, under her eye/just above her cheekbones on each side and top jaw. The frame will pull Lauren’s face outwards, enable her to breathe better and to enable her to close her mouth. She will also be having a skin graft to cover the hole in her palate. This operation could take up to 8 to 10 hours.
After she will need to wear the frame for 4-6 month, in which she will have to manually tighten it to bring her top jaw forward. Lauren will need further recovery time once the frame has been removed to let her bones settle on their own without the frame and to let the fresh scars heal.
In October 2018 she was put on the waiting list to have her surgery. Lauren was made to believe this would be a 6 months waiting list. However due to pressures on the NHS and the amount of surgeries needed to be done by one surgeon in the south west, her surgery was pushed to October 2019.
After waiting for so many years Lauren thought this would be it, until she went to see her cleft team about getting a date. To find out that her surgeon had a serious neck injury of his own, preventing him from working/completing any surgeries.
Due to the complex nature of her 8-10 hour surgery, it is not widely practiced therefore will be difficult to find someone to replace him and do her surgery on the NHS.
As you can imagine this has been heart breaking for Lauren. She is currently about to take her A levels exams. Due to the recovery period needed after the surgery. Lauren has had no choice but to delay going to university. Lauren is aspiring to be a psychiatrist, due to all the support she has received over the years, she has been inspired to help people in the same way that so many amazing people helped her overcome such challenges.
Lauren lives with constant jaw pain and painful/sore tongue fissures. She faces challenges every day with her speech and eating. Lauren also suffers with sleep apnoea. She has suffered badly with glue ear as a child due to the sinus issues – causing very painful ear infections. She also has issues with her eye sight due to placement of her eye sockets.
Lauren has been wearing her braces now for 5 years, she is now looking at another 2-3 years to fix associated dental issues.
Lauren also suffers with depression and anxiety, not only due to health problems she has. We live in a cruel world where some people can be very horrible towards people that look different. Lauren has done her best not to let people like that bring her down. However some days are better than others.
We would like to say Thank you for taking the time to read our story about this lovely young lady Lauren.
Any contribution, no matter how small, would be amazing and will bring Lauren one step closer to having this operation she so badly needs.
Operations that Lauren has had so far:
• 2months old she had her first surgery, she had the left side of by bilateral lip repaired, it was a four hour operation to pull the skin to a central point and secure using 40 stitches.
• 6months old repair the right side
• 18months old repair the soft pallet 3 hour op you suffered a haemorrhage and went back in to surgery for a further hour, soft foods only
• 3/4 years old - soft lip repair after the bilateral lip repair they need to CIT the underneath of the lip and attach skin from the inside cheek to soften and reduce the tightness
• 2010 - 9 years old. Surgery that removed a bone from her shin to put into her jaw
• 2015 - 14 years old. Operation to fix her lip. Original operation to bring her lips together was done at a young age. The more she grew the more it stretched causing major discomfort to the point there if dry would crack/feel like it was tearing. After that operation during the recovery one of the stitches split and has never been repaired so now have to take extra precautions to make sure it doesn't get dry (aka always apply lip balm) to prevent skin actually tearing (will get fixed during jaw operation as they are already adding stitches - same with the hole at the top of her palate due to being outgrown - will be fixed via skin graft most likely from inside her cheek during operation).