Teen born with double cleft palate has last surgery after 17 years

CHICAGO -- A Chicago teen born with a double cleft palate allowed WGN into his journey.

He has spent 17 years going through surgeries to correct a rare problem. Most people recognize the struggle of being born with a cleft lip or palate as something that happens in developing countries. It also happens in the city with about two dozen cases reported every year. Nationwide, one in 700 children are born with a cleft palate.

Fabian Bautista, 18, has undergone about 15 surgeries in his life to correct the problem. He said although he has had his struggles, he’s worked on building his confidence and staying positive. Fabian says, I realize how much I’ve done but the people that worked with me.  I’m really thankful for everything.”

Dr. Mimis Cohen at the UI Health Craniofacial Center handles cases like Fabian’s.

I know he’s going to do very well in his life so that’s the joy of seeing kids that start with a handicap and grow up normal kids," he said.

Fabian wanted to tell his story to raise awareness about what many kids like him go through. He will be the first in his family to go to college and Tuesday was his 18th birthday.

One of the organizations helping families dealing with children and this condition is Face the Future Foundation. For more information, visit their website facethefuturefoundation.org.