Transforming Faces Blog

The Importance of Early Care – Chaiyanon’s story

March 17th, 2017 by

comprehensive care infographic


We know that a long-term, comprehensive approach is essential in ensuring that children born with cleft lip and palate can build happy, healthy lives. At Transforming Faces, we work with local teams to provide care that begins when babies are born, and continues for up to the first 20 years of a patient’s life.Chaiyanon & Mum

While surgery can be an important part of the treatment process, our partners know that comprehensive cleft care often begins well before the initial cleft repair surgery.

For example, pre-surgery our partners are:

  • Working with local hospitals and community centres to raise awareness about what cleft lip and palate is, and where and how it’s treated
  • Supporting infants with cleft palate who are usually unable to breastfeed through feeding support. This helps the baby reach a healthy weight (which is essential before surgery can take place)
  • Sometimes utilizing special techniques, like the nasoalveolar moulding technique (NAM), to help reshape the nose, gums and lips before surgery. This minimizes facial scarring and the need for additional surgeries as the child gets older
  • Addressing the stigma and shame that cleft still carries in some parts of the world. To help parents and caregivers prepare for a long treatment process, counselling is essential in helping parents understand their child’s treatment plan, and feel invested in their full recovery

Early support for Chaiyanon & his family

Chaiyanon’s cleft treatment journey is just beginning.

His family live in Thailand’s northernmost town of Mae Sai (right on the Myanmar border), and they welcomed their beautiful baby boy into the world this past December. When Chaiyanon was born with a cleft lip and palate, his family knew to seek out our Thai partner, the Northern Women’s Development Foundation (NWDF). They brought Chaiyanon to our partner when he was just two days old, ensuring he has access to quality care from the very beginning.

As is the case with many newborns born with cleft, his journey is not without its challenges. He is having some difficulty gaining weight – which is important in ensuring there are no delays to his repair surgery. His parents are invested in his recovery, and are grateful to have access to free, quality care for their son as work can be scarce, and his father cleans gutters when he can for around $20 CAD a day.

But with the support of his loving family and our network of partners in Thailand, he is off to a strong start! He will have an assessment later in the month to determine whether he is a good candidate for NAM treatment, which is used to help reshape the nose, gums and lips before surgery for better outcomes. And while Chaiyanon’s cleft care journey is just getting started, we are very happy to know that both he and his family will have access to long-term support in the years ahead!


Caiyanon - boy - born Dec 2016 (1)


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Beautiful Before & After – May 17th

March 13th, 2017 by

BB&A logo

It’s that time of year again! Our annual Beautiful Before & After event is taking place on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at the BMO Conference & Event Centre in Toronto. This is our biggest night of the year to raise funds in support of comprehensive cleft care for children and their families around the world!

Join us for:

  • A silent auction featuring AMAZING items up for grabs (including Disney World park passes, spa packages, and more!)
  • Open bar and canapés
  • Hosted by Beverly Thomson of CTV News
  • Great music, great people and great fun
  • And 100% of all proceeds going directly to our international cleft care programs!

Tickets are now available online.
Space is limited, so be sure to get yours today!


Transforming Faces - BMO - 2016-170

Help Fund-A-Need:

This year, we are also raising funds for a nasometer for our partners at Fundacion Gavina in Argentina, through our Fund-A-Need initiative. If you are not able to attend the event but would still like to support our work, please consider making a small donation towards the nasometer by sending us an e-mail, giving us a call (416 222 6581), or donating online.

See you there!

– The TF Team

Attendees at last year's event!

Attendees at last year’s event!


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The TF 2017 Partner Summit

February 28th, 2017 by


Following a productive few days at the International Cleft Congress in India, our partners participated in a special two-day TF Partner Summit.

- TF partners share ideas and expertise at the 2017 Partner Summit.
– TF partners share ideas and expertise at the 2017 Partner Summit.

We wanted to make the most of this unique opportunity to have representatives from each of our projects together in one place! Our Board Members led discussion sessions that centred around topics like:

  • innovative approaches to providing cleft care
  • program sustainability
  • struggles and successes in accessing rural and remote communities
  • lessons on working together as multidisciplinary teams

A Valuable Opportunity to Connect

"It's very good for me to come here and to learn from you and orthodontists from around the world, and learn how you think." - Nan from Thailand tells Rocio from Peru.

“It’s very good for me to come here and to learn from you and orthodontists from around the world, and learn how you think.” – Nan from Thailand tells Rocio from Peru.


The TF Partner Summit offered our partners the opportunity to connect with each other, share lessons and ideas, come up with solutions to common challenges and form lasting relationships. Our partners provided feedback that will help shape our collective vision and strengthen TF’s work moving forward, and we are so grateful for their invaluable insight and expertise.

TF Board Member, Dr. Ronald Zuker, summed up the experience beautifully:

“It is a great pleasure for us to bring together our partners from projects
all over this world, to share in our knowledge of cleft lip and palate,
to interact with one another, and to learn from each of our strengths and challenges.
Only in this way can we advance the care of our patients.”



– Board Member Dr. Zuker shares a smile with Phanomwan from Thailand.


You can read more about the great work our partners are doing by checking out our blog!



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Highlights from the 2017 International Cleft Congress

February 24th, 2017 by

TF Partners, Board & Staff.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on our blog or social media over the past few weeks, you will already know that the International Cleft Congress took place in Chennai, India this February.

Once every four years, the world’s leading cleft professionals convene at this prestigious international event to share their expertise and learn from each other. TF partners, Board Members and staff played an important role at the Cleft Congress, and we are thrilled to share their accomplishments with you!

  • Bringing together 28 delegates from 12 countries across 5 continents 

– Delegates from Thailand present our Board with hand-drawn pictures from children who TF has supported.

  • Our delegates made major contributions to the Conference, including 6 oral presentations, 7 free paper sessions and 11 poster presentations!

– Orthodontist  Dr. Rocio Lu Chang Say is all smiles as she reports on successes in Peru!

  • TF honoured for our contribution to cleft care

Jackie and Jill honoured at the Opening Ceremony.

– Founder Jackie Elton and Board Member Jill Martin honoured at the Opening Ceremonies.

  • Friend of TF, Dr. Dale Podolsky wins the Congress’s coveted award

Canadian Dr. Podolsky was awarded the Owen Cole Memorial Scholarship for his development a high-fidelity cleft palate simulator. Read more about the simulator and his work with TF in Chile here.

Dr. Podolsky and Program Director Abdon

  • TF’s longtime partner in India hosts this prestigious event

We are so proud of our longtime partner, Sri Ramachandra University (SRU), who organized the International Cleft Congress this year. We applaud them for all the time and hard work they put into hosting nearly 1,000 delegates from across the globe (and we truly believe it was the best Cleft Congress yet!).

“We are very proud here at SRU. It is a big milestone for us to be able to host such an event.”
– Suraj Subramaniyan from Sri Ramachandra University

Suraj presents to delegates

-SRU & TF have been working together to deliver comprehensive care in India for 11 years!

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Sharing NAM Knowledge in Peru

February 15th, 2017 by

Some of you might remember that back in 2015, Transforming Faces organized a Nasoalveolar Moulding (NAM) Workshop for some of our partners. Workshop participants agreed to train fellow orthodontists in their home communities on the technique, which is used to reduce cleft size prior to surgery.

NAM training in Toronto in 2015.

– The original NAM training took place in Toronto in 2015.


We’re very pleased to say that our partners have been sharing the knowledge they learned at home! Most recently, TF partner Dr. Lourdes Motta from Peru organized a cleft care workshop at the Children’s Hospital in Lima in December 2016. Sixteen residents from a nearby university came to her hospital’s Orthodontic & Orthopedic Unit for the training.

 - Dr. Lourdes Motta in action


We are pleased that Dr. Motta is sharing these techniques with up and coming young professionals in Peru, and look forward to the impact this training will have on cleft care in the country!

- The new trainees!

– The new NAM trainees!

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