Thérèse’s husband was already struggling to provide for their family when Elisabeth was born with a cleft lip and palate. Elisabeth was unable to breastfeed successfully due to her malformed palate, and she began to lose weight dramatically. Even her father thought that she would die.
Thérèse had never heard of anyone having this condition before and had no idea how to care for her tiny daughter. She kept the newborn alive the only way she could think of – by feeding her diluted sweetened condensed milk from a spoon.
“I was really sad because I was thinking about her future,” shared Thérèse. “I had in mind that she would have this problem all of her life.”
Then one fabulous day someone at church told Thérèse about Mercy Ships. They were sure Elisabeth’s condition could be fixed on board – for free! So Thérèse began an anxious wait.At three months old and weighing a fragile 2.1 kg, Elisabeth was screened for the Mercy Ships Infant Feeding Program. Under further care from dietitian Jillian, it took just eight weeks for Elisabeth double her weight. Then she was strong enough to undergo surgery on her cleft lip, and her appearance dramatically changed. Then, once she reached 10 months old, she underwent a second surgery to correct her cleft palate.
“Even though I am poor, I feel a lot of things have gone from my shoulders now,” reflects Thérèse. “Before I was so worried about the future, but now my baby will look like everybody else.”
Thérèse’s neighbours were completely shocked when mother and daughter returned home. Elisabeth looked beautiful. “It’s done! It really happened!” the villagers exclaimed.
Because of supporters like you, Mercy Ships is able to provide free surgical and medical care for people like Elisabeth.