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A Healthy Smile is Just the Beginning®

Diego’s healthy smile journey shows the benefits of comprehensive cleft care. Born in 1996 in Ecuador, Diego has a cleft lip and palate. He met GSF’s founding volunteers that same year at the age of 3 months and underwent reconstructive surgery for his cleft lip. A year later, Diego and his family returned so that he could undergo reconstructive surgery for his cleft palate.

For the past 25 years, Diego has grown up GSF. He received dental care, speech therapy, and psychosocial support throughout his childhood. He and his family got to know the GSF volunteer team and when Fundación Global Smile-Ecuador was formed in 2012, he joined as a volunteer to support our annual outreach program.

Diego also underwent secondary cleft surgeries that are done when a patient has grown enough for oral surgery and cleft-related rhinoplasty. Throughout this time, Diego learned how to take photos during our programs and mentored younger patients who were receiving care.

The comprehensive cleft care he received allowed Diego to pursue his interests and attend school without being bullied for a facial difference or held back by difficulty speaking clearly. He was the valedictorian of his high school class and graduated from the Universidad Politécnica Salesiana in Guayaquil in April 2019 with a degree in Social Communications and a specialty in Audiovisual Productions.

Diego’s story has come full circle: he is now employed by Global Smile Foundation as our Photographer!

“GSF changed my life. I am forever indebted to all the doctors who helped me. I am where I am today because of GSF. I want to give something back to my community in honor of what GSF has done for me.”


Watch Diego’s Transformation

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