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From the Mouth of a Babe: Daisy Drake’s Cleft Palate Repair

Blog From the Mouth of a Babe: Daisy Drake’s Cleft Palate Repair

Beyond this adorable exterior, 10 month old Daisy Drake was struggling with a challenging condition: a cleft palate.


Her sweet, angelic face, cherub cheeks and calm demeanor enchant you immediately. But beyond this adorable exterior, 10 month old Daisy Drake was struggling with a challenging condition: a cleft palate.

“When she was born last August,” her mother Elizabeth recalls, “everything seemed normal. However, within the first hour we were trying to get her to nurse and she just would not comply. Then, she let out a huge open mouth cry, and I looked down and realized, ‘Oh, she’s got a cleft issue.’

Elizabeth Drake and her husband Caleb had been down this road before. “We weren’t strangers to the condition. My husband’s mother was born with a full cleft palate and required a repair later in life,” explains Elizabeth, “and one of our daughter’s was born with a cleft issue as well.” The couple has four daughters— Evalyn, 7, Amelia, 5 and Georgia age 3.

Daisy is the couple’s youngest child.

Diagnosed at age 3, the Drake’s oldest daughter, Evalyn, was first identified as having a cleft issue by her preschool teacher, who felt something was challenging the child’s speech. The Drakes were then referred to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and ultimately directed to Dr. Tholpady and his surgical team for a cleft repair. Evelyn’s first surgery occurred when she was 4 years old.

“Returning to Riley was an easy decision for us,” says Elizabeth. “Dr. Tholpady and the team are wonderful. We had a great experience that first time so we gravitated toward them again when we learned about Daisy. Dr. Tholpady, in particular, is amazing. He is a very thorough doctor, who is incredibly patient when it comes to explaining everything to parents and our checkups with him always go so smoothly.”

In addition to a cleft repair, Daisy, like many cleft palate patients, was also found to need ear tubes. Both surgeries occurred on the same day at Riley and Daisy came through and recovered from the procedures well, says Elizabeth.

As for Dr. Tholpady, surgical procedures like Daisy’s are all a part of a regular day’s work—work he says he feels lucky to do.

“As a surgeon, it’s really gratifying to be able to help kids like Daisy,” he says. “Today, cleft palate is a common and correctible condition. Once the issue has been properly addressed, children like Daisy grow up and go on to have a great prognosis. And I’m happy to be able to help with that.”

-- By Sarah Burns
    Video by Mike Dickbernd

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