María José has six children and seven grandchildren who she largely single-handedly supports. Her 18-year-old daughter, Gisele, suffers from extreme epilepsy and lives with her and a few of her siblings.
When María José learned Gisele was pregnant, she knew her daughter would need her help to raise the baby since her seizures were getting worse. But Gisele didn’t know how much extra help she would need until after baby Lorrane was born and the family saw the newborn for the first time with a cleft lip.
Lorrane was born with a cleft lip and palate. María José and Gisele could not comprehend why she was born that way – neither one had ever seen anyone with a cleft condition before Lorrane. Gisele blamed herself and blamed her epilepsy for her daughter’s cleft lip and cleft palate. María José tried to calm her daughter and told her to accept her baby.
Fortunately, there was a doctor at the hospital were Gisele gave birth who knew about Operation Smile. María José and Gisele’s initial shock and sadness was alleviated when this doctor not only told them Lorrane’s cleft lip could be repaired, but an organization called Operation Smile will come to Santarem, on the bank of the Amazon, in August to provide free treatment for children like Lorrane. At first, María José and Gisele did not believe surgery at no cost was possible. They were overjoyed when they heard this news.
This doctor then connected the family with Dr. Jocevan Pedroso an Operation Smile Brazil medical volunteer who lives in Santarem, to ensure that they received counseling and were fully registered with Operation Smile before the medical mission.
The family took a 30 minute bus to the hospital where, for the first time, María José and Gisele saw dozens of other families with children like Lorrane. María José was anxious as she saw so many other families also hoping that their child would be scheduled for surgery and hoped that Lorrane would be able to receive the care she desperately needed.
After a day of medical evaluations, Lorrane was deemed healthy enough to receive surgery and was scheduled for the cleft lip operation the next day. Though María José was thrilled at the possibility of surgery, she was also understandably anxious.
María José’s anxiety as her precious granddaughter underwent surgery transformed into a moment of total happiness when she saw Lorrane’s new smile for the first time. Gisele couldn’t believe this was her daughter who went into surgery just a short time ago.
The morning after surgery, Lorrane was discharged from the hospital – grandmother, mother and granddaughter were all smiles as they said a heartfelt thank you to the nurses and doctors for their care and headed home to celebrate their new life together with family and friends.