A smile is a universal gesture of kindness, a welcome greeting to an old friend or a stranger.
To highlight the beauty of his young patients’ smiles, Matthew Greives, M.D., a pediatric plastic surgeon at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, enlisted the help of the hospital’s marketing team and award-winning photographer, Scott Dalton, to create “Smiles are Contagious,” a gallery of portraits showcasing patients who are being treated for cleft lip and palate.
Samaya Reyes, a 5-year-old who is featured in the gallery, has undergone three surgeries and will have more in the future.
“I want to show her smile off to the world,” said Samaya’s mother, Paula Cortez. “It was hard. She had her first surgery at eight months, another one at 18 months and again when she was 3 years old. But she is a strong little girl and she gives me strength when I don’t have any left.”
In the cheerful photos—headshots of 15 children—Dalton captured the individuality of each patient.
“Our kids have something that is so visible,” Greives said. “Everybody can relate to what a cleft lip and palate is. You see that, you can see a picture of that and have a very visceral response to that, whereas with a lot of other medical problems, it is hard to understand what exactly is going on. Our kids—what they go through in surgery is to rebuild their smile.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 7,090 babies are born with a cleft lip or palate each year in the United States. Depending on the severity of the birth defect, a patient with cleft lip or palate will potentially undergo several surgeries in childhood.
“If it is an isolated cleft lip, maybe one surgery. If it is something like a full cleft lip and palate where you are missing bone, teeth, muscle—you could be upwards of five, six, seven surgeries,” Greives explained. “Some of our kids have gone through six or seven surgeries by the time they are 18.”
The portrait gallery is an opportunity to show not only the work being done in the craniofacial field, but also to celebrate diversity.
“I think we are at a big cultural change. If you look at movies like Wonder, or shows like ‘Glee,’ people are showcasing their differences and showcasing what makes them special,” Greives said. “We want to do that with our kids with cleft lip and palate and show them that they are special. Their smile is unlike anyone else’s and that doesn’t make it bad or something they should hide—it makes it something they should show off and embrace.”
“Smiles are Contagious” will be on display in the Rick Smith Gallery on the first floor of Memorial Hermann- Texas Medical Center, 6411 Fannin St., through October. On November 1, the portraits will move to Third Coast restaurant on the sixth floor of the John P. McGovern Commons at 6550 Bertner Ave.
Texas A&M University Health Science CenterTAMUhealthsciences
Today was a gorgeous day at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center!
TAMU Health Sciences@TAMHSC
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MD Anderson Cancer CenterMDAnderson
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U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsVeteransAffairs
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay are Army Veterans Denton W. Crocker Sr. and Denton “Mogie” W. Crocker Jr. Denton served during World War II and his son, Mogie, served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1966. Denton was born in May 1919 in Salem, Massachusetts. As a child, Denton developed a passion for nature and the world around him as he went on hiking and backpacking trips with his family. His love of nature continued into his adult years as he pursued a degree in biology from Northeastern University. However, the outbreak of World War II would change his plans. Denton received his draft letter in January 1942. He was able to defer his enlistment until June of that year to allow him to graduate. On June 29, Denton arrived at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. His time at Fort Devens and Basic Training at Camp Pickett, Virginia was a pleasant experience for him, as he enjoyed the physical activities, meeting new people and the good southern cooking. Denton continued his training at various posts in the U.S., and it wasn’t until January 1944 that he left the States for New Guinea. Denton was part of a Malaria Survey Unit whose job was to find where mosquitoes were breeding, the hours of the day they were biting and make recommendations for control. Since the Japanese had been driven out of New Guinea prior to his arrival, Denton and his team saw little to no combat. In addition to his time in New Guinea, Denton also traveled to the Philippines, the Dutch Indies, Okinawa and Japan. Although Denton remembers his time in the Pacific fondly, there was one near-death experience that stood out in his mind. On a convoy heading to an island for invasion, he saw twenty-one planes shot down. As they came on to the beach, a Japanese plane was shooting at them while the door came down. Thankfully, the gunner was able to shoot the plane down, saving Denton’s and many other men’s lives. After the war, Denton kept in touch with all but one man from his thirteen-man unit. He then got married, attended graduate school and had four children. He credits the Army with helping him to grow from a young man to a self-reliant person. Denton’s son Mogie was born in June 1947. He was the oldest of Denton and Jean-Marie Crocker’s children and was fondly remembered as a very bright young man. His enlistment in the U.S. Army came about in a rather unforeseen manner that left his family surprised and puzzled at his patriotism. On Sunday October 18, 1964, Mogie left his home in Saratoga Springs, New York without telling anyone in his family. He had run away to enlist in the Army and knew his parents would not approve. In a letter found in his desk drawer, Mogie stated that he had enlisted in the war for several reasons. One reason was that he “wanted to help the Vietnamese keep their freedom,” and he also wanted to earn his way in the world. With youth and idealistic views, Mogie got his wish when he became an infantryman. During his time in Vietnam, Mogie wrote letters home to his family and told them about his experiences overseas. However, Mogie’s time and fascination with Vietnam was sadly cut short. In June 1966, his mother and father received notice that Mogie had passed away from injuries received from small arms fire. He died June 4, 1966, a day after his 19th birthday. You can learn more about Denton’s and Mogie’s experiences during WWII and the Vietnam War through the Veterans History Project, or by reading Denton’s memoir entitled, “My War on Mosquitos, 1942-1945” linked here: http://bit.ly/2YkIkm2 , and by reading Jean-Marie Crocker’s memoir about her son entitled “Son of the Cold War: A Personal History” linked at: http://bit.ly/2YkIidU. We honor your service, Denton and Mogie!
Baylor College of MedicineBaylorCollegeOfMedicine
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Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army #Veterans Denton W. Crocker Sr. and Denton “Mogie” W. Crocker Jr. Denton served during World War II and his son, Mogie, served during the Vietnam War https://t.co/CcoMGaknqz
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsVeteransAffairs
Today we recognize 30-year U.S. Navy Veteran, Capt. Helen-Louise Brooks. Brooks served during three wars, joining the Navy Nurse Corps in 1944, serving aboard the USS Consolation during the Korean war and serving as the Chief Nurse on board Naval Support Activity Da Nang, during the Vietnam War.
Harris Health SystemHarrisHealthSystem
Last Friday, Ben Taub Hospital hosted local vendors at their farmers’ market. The vendors brought a wide variety of items, including seasonal produce, tamales, mixed nuts and locally-produced olive oil and honey.
TAMU Health Sciences@TAMHSC
.@TAMU_SPH research shows that primary bans on texting while driving prevent motor vehicle crash-related visits to emergency departments. Stop Texting & Driving #ItCanWait. https://t.co/eeUXYhHRj1 #TAMUHealth https://t.co/BXfOOeXBdZ