Our 1st Annual Craniofacial Team Picnic was a major success

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More than 35 patients and their families turned out for Stanford Children’s Health’s 1st Annual Craniofacial Team Picnic on June 6 to connect with one another in an enjoyable and supportive environment.

Held on the Stanford Campus and organized by the Cleft and Craniofacial Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the gathering was an opportunity for patients and their families to meet other individuals with similar craniofacial conditions and interact with the center’s medical team on a different level.

“It was wonderful to see our patients be together along with our medical staff in a fun setting away from the exam room,” said Elena Hopkins, NP. “We had food, games and entertainment and for many of the parents, it was the first time they had the opportunity to speak and share information with other parents who have children with the same issues.”

The Craniofacial Center’s care team most commonly sees patients who are born with cleft lips and palates but they also treat patients with a range of craniofacial anomalies, as well as patients who may need reconstruction caused by accidents or trauma.

“Addressing the psychological impact that these anomalies can have on patients is critical, and hosting this picnic was one more way we could make a positive difference,” said Derrick Wan, MD, assistant professor of surgery (plastic and reconstructive surgery) at the Stanford School of Medicine. “The kids were able to meet other kids with similar conditions, and we had the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with our patients and their families.”

Wan said the gathering also allowed patients to see the benefits of reconstruction and what they could possibly expect in the future. For example, it’s common for children with cleft lips and palates to have multiple surgeries. These can begin as early as three months old and continue into adolescence to correct their physical problems and enhance their appearance.

One of the picnic attendees, 10-year-old Xander Bulatao, was born with a cleft lip and palate. He wanted to show the other kids not only how far he has come with his physical appearance but also how looking different doesn’t have to affect how to live your life.

The popular 4th grader from Sunnyvale, who has had 15 surgeries repairing his cleft lip and palate, as well as ear tube surgery, wowed the crowd by getting on stage and singing and dancing to the song “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.

Xander’s mother, Arlene Alonzo Bulatao, said she wasn’t a bit surprised about his idea to perform at the picnic and show the kids they shouldn’t be embarrassed by their appearance, and that they could do anything.

“Xander wanted to sing and dance to inspire the kids and their parents,” she said. “Every day he’s an inspiration to us, and I think he was an inspiration to the kids at the picnic.”

Discover more about our Cleft and Craniofacial Center or call (650) 497-8265.

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