By the time she was 5 years old, Chinese-born Jenna Delap had been orphaned, adopted, and flown across the globe to her new home. In addition to all that, she had endured five reconstructive surgeries to correct her cleft lip and palate.
Utilizing a revolutionary procedure he developed using bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), Jenna’s doctor, Michael Carstens, M.D., F.A.C.S., director of plastic surgery at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, transformed her cleft lip and palate and instilled self-confidence into the once-withdrawn little girl.
During her pre-birth development, the two sides of Jenna’s upper lip remained separated, resulting in a cleft lip. The two plates in the roof of her mouth failed to join and caused a gap, or cleft palate. One in 700 children born worldwide is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate.
A simple way to remember BMP is to think of “bone-making protein”. Dr. Carstens’ BMP technique actually grows new bone in the gum line and below the nose, resulting in beautiful smiles and fewer surgeries. Traditional cleft palate repair typically involves bone grafts and multiple procedures throughout childhood. Using BMP, Dr. Carstens can correct the condition entirely before children enter kindergarten.
Jenna’s parents, Ken and Sheryl Delap, credit Cardinal Glennon and Dr. Carstens with the tremendous changes in their daughter.
“Dr. Carstens completely changed Jenna’s life,” Ken Delap says. “Before the surgery, her sisters treated her like the ugly duckling. She lacked self-confidence. Thanks to Dr. Carstens’ work, she’s a happy, outgoing and confident child now.”