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The International Friendship Club Cleft Palate Program

March 3, 2015

Since 1986, the IFC has funded a Cleft Palate program that provides free medical consultation and treatment to underprivileged children born with a cleft palate or harelip. Your donations are instrumental in creating new faces for the children.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - On Tuesday, March 3rd at 7:00 pm, the IFC will host a public information session on its Cleft Palate Program at the IFC clubhouse. Medical professionals who volunteer their time to treat local children at no cost will summarize the past few years of medical care, with an interesting PowerPoint presentation, time for questions and answers, and desserts and refreshments after the session. The public is invited and there is no cost, so please join us for an inspiring evening!

Nearly thirty years ago, a group of caring expats noticed that children with cleft palate conditions were not able to get the care they needed locally. Motivated by a desire to help, they formed The International Friendship Club to raise money and support a Cleft Palate program.

All these years later, The IFC Cleft Palate Program is going strong. Clinics are held at roughly three-month intervals and takes three days to complete. The first day is for consultations, the second for surgery and overnight monitoring, the third day is medical review and discharge day.

The afternoon and early evening of Wednesday, March 4 will be dedicated to consultations and examinations at the Clubhouse, during which the doctors can see 50-100 babies and children involved in the program. Volunteers who are interested in visiting with families and entertaining children can bring some coloring books, crayons, or similar entertainment. Please email Marlene Lopez at marlene733148(at)hotmail.com if you'd like to help.


On Thursday, March 5, those patients needing surgery will go to one of the CMQ Hospitals, whose management generously provides operating rooms, equipment, rooms and meals for an overnight stay.

Our volunteer medical staff include surgeon Dr. Ezequiel Fuentes Lopez who has been with the program since it started, along with Dr. Rodolfo Becerra Castaneda and anesthesiologist Dr. Emigdio de la Cruz Llontop Pisil of the Instituto Jaliscence de Cirugia Reconstructiva, both of whom have served for many years.

Their specialist nurses who also volunteer their time are Enfa. Emma Gonzalez Serna, chief of nursing at Sanatorio Versalles, and Enfa. Maria del los Angeles Alvarado, also of the Instituto Jaliscence de Cirugia Reconstructiva. The team brings all their specialized surgical instruments with them and the IFC pays for their transportation and expenses and buys the surgical supplies that are needed.

April and Bill Miton head up the IFC's dedicated Cleft Palate volunteer team and they manage to find accommodations in town and in Nuevo Vallarta donated by generous friends. Various restaurants in Puerto Vallarta support the program by donating dinners or offering our medical personnel and volunteers reduced prices. Daiquiri Dick's has been donating wonderful clinic-night dinners to the medical staff and volunteers for years, while other Puerto Vallarta restaurants have been generous in their support too, including Ocho Tostados, Ginger, Prime 159, Sea Monkey, Eddie's Place, and Fajita Republic. For further information about the IFC Cleft Palate Program please contact April Miton at themitonspv(at)gmail.com.

If you would like to support this program for the children of Puerto Vallarta you can do so by going to the IFC website, ifcvallarta.com and clicking on the "Donate" button, or by taking an IFC Home Tour, which raises funds for the program. Reserve online at ToursForVallarta.com.

Information About Cleft Palate Condition

People often wonder what exactly a cleft palate involves. Cleft lip and cleft palate are conditions that occur when a baby's lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. Together, these conditions commonly are called "orofacial clefts." The condition typically develops early in pregnancy. A baby can have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both a cleft lip and cleft palate.

Children with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate or a cleft palate alone often have problems nursing - which can be life threatening - as well as with their hearing, speech development, teeth, and many other challenges. In addition, some children may have issues with self-esteem if they are concerned with visible differences between themselves and other children.

Surgery to repair a cleft lip usually occurs in the first few months of life and is recommended within the first 12 months of life. Surgery to repair a cleft palate is recommended within the first 18 months of life or earlier if possible. Many children will need additional surgical procedures as they get older.

Surgical repair can improve the look and appearance of a child's face and might also improve breathing, hearing, and speech and language development. Children born with orofacial clefts might need other types of treatments and services, such as special dental or orthodontic care or speech therapy. With treatment, most children do well and lead a healthy life.

The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta A.C. It is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 48300. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: ifcvallarta.com Email: ifcvallarta(at)gmail.com