A Triumphant Journey
A baby born with a cleft lip/cleft palate in a poor, remote region of the Amazon has slim chances of ever affording corrective surgery, but baby “Angelica’s” mother heard a medical mission team was traveling from Houston to Columbia to perform surgeries to repair facial deformities.
She knew this was her only chance to change her baby’s life – the brave mother and her 7 month old, set out on their journey. Over the river (two days by canoe) and through the Amazon (17 hours by bus) the pair finally arrived in Armenia, Columbia, tired, but overwhelmed with joy that her baby would receive life-changing surgical repair.
Moments after Stephen Decker’s birth, Dr. Ernest Cronin was called to the maternity ward at St. Joseph Hospital, where he diagnosed Stephen with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Seven surgeries and 17 years later, Stephen’s smile is evidence that he requires no more significant procedures.
A model high school senior at Alief Taylor, Stephen enjoys movies with friends, video games and pitching for his school’s baseball team. He even boasts a stellar academic record and aspirations of an athletic scholarship. Today most would never recognize that Stephen was born with a facial anomaly. Feeling especially blessed by their relationship with the men and women of the Cronin & Brauer Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic, Stephen and his family regularly donate their time as volunteers for Operation San José.