Ontario doctor’s 3D Cleft Palate Simulator is making headlines and transforming the way we teach cleft palate repair

January 12th, 2017 by

Bookmark and Share

Dr. Giuliano & Dr. Podolsky at the two day workshop in Santiago

Dr. Dale Podolsky’s credentials are nothing short of extraordinary. He’s a medical resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Toronto, with prior degrees in mechanical engineering and physics. And to top it off, his innovative new 3D Cleft Palate Simulator has recently been making headlines! Drawing on his unique skill set, he’s revolutionizing the way we teach one of the world’s most common surgeries – cleft palate repair in infants.

Transforming the way we teach cleft palate repair surgery

Dr. Podolsky spent two years working to create a 3D Cleft Palate Simulator, a true-to-life model of an infant’s mouth that improves the way surgeons around the world can practice cleft palate repair surgeries. For many years, this surgery has been taught using Styrofoam cups, which is problematic considering the incredibly intricate procedure of cleft lip and palate repair, especially in very young patients.

“The high-fidelity cleft palate simulator represents a paradigm shift in cleft surgery training, providing the opportunity to practice cleft surgery without compromising patient safety,” explains Dr. Podolsky.

This advancement is so essential because cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth anomalies in the world. So common, in fact, that according to the US Census Bureau a child is born with cleft lip and palate approximately every two and a half minutes. The condition affects the upper lip and the hard and soft palate of the mouth, which can impact a child’s appearance, speech, teeth, eating, hearing and ability to develop socially.

Building capacity of TF’s partners in Chile

Cleft Simulator Training at Gantz (1)


Dr. Podolsky travelled with Transforming Faces to Chile in December 2016, where he hosted a two day workshop with our local partners at Fundacion Gantz, located in the country’s capital, Santiago.

Podolsky notes:

“A landmark trial for the simulator was conducted in Santiago, Chile at Fundacion Gantz in collaboration with Transforming Faces. Sixteen surgeons from the surrounding region had the opportunity to use the simulator in a unique setting, demonstrating its efficacy and the feasibility of conducting similar training programs around the world to enhance the learning of this challenging procedure.”

The workshop covered the anatomy of the palate and an overview of the 3D Palate Simulator, and included discussion with the participating surgeons about the Chilean context and experience with cleft palate surgery. This was followed by two rounds of practicing with the simulator! Each of the 16 surgeons performed a palate surgery using the simulator, taking an average of about 2 hours per surgery.

Cleft Simulator Training at Gantz (3)

Supporting innovative projects like these is an important part of our mandate at Transforming Faces. We are thrilled to have been able to bring Dr. Podolsky and our partners in Chile together. The cutting-edge technology of the 3D Palate Simulator, combined with our partners’ expertise, should prove to have a tremendous impact on the patients we reach in local communities.


Cleft Simulator Training at Gantz (4)


Stay tuned for more updates, and in the meantime you can check out other articles on the 3D Cleft Palate Simulator here:


And for our Spanish friends:


GAVINA Recognized by Argentinian Provincial Government

January 13th, 2016 by

Bookmark and Share

We are thrilled to announce that our partners in Argentina, Fundación GAVINA, have been acknowledged by the local provincial government for their dedicated work in the non-profit sector. GAVINA was one of roughly 20 highly reputable Argentinian foundations that were awarded a certificate of recognition in a public ceremony that took place in December 2015.

GAVINA was also awarded 100,000 pesos, equivalent to roughly $10,000 Canadian. The organizations selected were cited as some of the most important and renowned groups in the province.

Public award ceremony in Argentina

GAVINA representatives with certificate of recognition

At Transforming Faces, we are so proud to partner with such skilled, dedicated cleft care teams around the world and see all their hard work recognized.

Learn more about our global partnerships.

Health & Education Day in Peru

December 8th, 2014 by

Bookmark and Share

Recently, our Peruvian partner program kusiROSTROS hosted its 4th Annual Health and Education Day for families of children with cleft lip and palate. 

DSCN4915 (2)

The purpose of the event was to bring the local cleft community together and raise awareness about the importance of a comprehensive approach to cleft care. Once again, it was a huge success with roughly 200 children and 200 parents and caregivers in attendance. The fun-filled day included face painting, a drawing and painting contest, live music, and arts and crafts classes for parents. New patients also had the opportunity to get health evaluations in each cleft care discipline including: surgery, nursing, dentistry, speech therapy and psychology. 

Health and Education Day took place at one of our Community Rehabilitation Centres (CRCs) in San Martin de Porres, a community in Peru’s capital city. Currently, Transforming Faces and kusiROSTROS have established five CRCs around the periphery of Lima to ensure families of children with cleft have access to quality and comprehensive cleft care close to home. 

DSCN4907According to kusiROSTROS Director Maria Teresa Torres Morales, “the parents were very happy to see a Comprehensive Care Centre become a reality for people with cleft lip and palate.” KusiROSTROS has also recently launched an exciting partnership with the teaching hospital at Cayetano Heredia University (UPCH). The state-of-the-art UPCH facility now hosts one of CRCs and serves as a Dental Referral Centre for more complex cases. 

 Learn more about our Peru programsDSCN2147 (2)

Thai Speech camps: Update

July 17th, 2014 by

Bookmark and Share

There is a shortage of speech pathologists and audiologists in Northern Thailand. As a result, many children do not receive this much needed care. 

In 2012, TF and Smile Train co-supported speech and dental camps to help children in this underserved area access speech therapy and dentistry services.

In 2013, Speech Camps continued to provide decentralized speech therapy, as well as oral health education for children and adults affected by cleft in the rural regions of Thailand and Laos.

Over two years, 18 patients from distant communities received speech therapy with the support of speech language pathologists (SLPs) from four hospitals and two universities.

Four intensive speech camps and another five quarterly follow up meetings took place. Eight speech assistants were trained to provide weekly speech sessions in rural locations.

In future, TF hopes to expand this Speech Camp into Laos, where there is a lack of services. The camp’s 18 patients will continue to receive follow up care.

Those who attended the camps were very appreciative of the care they provided.

“I am glad to have this project. I would like to thank the staff and teachers. My granddaughter has good speech now. The teachers at school say my niece can speak clearly like other children and gets along well with her friends,” said Mrs. Saengdao Wimonrat from Mae Jan district.

Mobile services, such as these camps, are helpful for patients in regions where limited health care services exist, especially at the border of both Myanmar and Laos.

Our partner hopes to continue this camp system and possibly replicate this system in other underserved regions of Thailand. 

TF exhibiting at ACPA’s 71st Annual Meeting

March 20th, 2014 by

Bookmark and Share

TF will be exhibiting at the ACPA’s 71st Annual Meeting  from March 24-29, 2014 in Indianapolis, IN!

Drop by our booth to discuss our Comprehensive Cleft Management Toolkit (CCMT). We are working to optimize the workflow and clinical management of our partner teams.  A key part of this process is putting essential information at the fingertips of front-line health workers. 

We are piloting the CCMT project in Argentina and Peru and we hope that the toolkit will allow our partners streamline their clinical processes and document outcomes. In producing the CCMT, TF seeks to promote complete, patient-centered cleft care in developing countries. Stop by our booth to learn more! 

In addition to our exhibit booth, TF will be honouring one of our partners, Maria Teresa Torres de Salcedo, who has been chosen as the recipient of the 2014 CPF Leadership Award. She will be honoured at the ACPA annual award luncheon in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday March 27, 2014.

The CPF Leadership Award recognizes an individual or group (non ACPA member) that has demonstrated exceptional service and leadership on behalf of individuals with cleft or craniofacial anomalies and is awarded at the Annual Meeting of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association (ACPA). 

Hope to see you at our booth!