Performing Surgeries on Children with Facial Deformities
Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with the founder of Little Baby Face Foundation, Dr. Thomas Romo, to discuss the life-changing surgery he and his colleagues perform on children born with debilitating facial deformities.
"We are pleased to welcome Doctor Thomas Romo, Founder and Medical Director of an organization called Little Baby Face Foundation. Good to see you doctor. Thank you Steve. How would you describe the organization? Well, the organization is a non profit that provides low income families' children with free reconstructive surgery of any facial birth defect. So we specialize in bringing children and their families to New York... Hmm. ...and we cover all the costs and we do room and board, transportation, and we bring them here, and we provide free reconstructive surgery of any facial birth defect, emphasizing New York, the United States, but also children from out of the country. How did you get into this? You know, the standard model... I'm a plastic surgeon here in New York, and I have been for 25 years, and the standard model for philanthropy, it's tough for me to be an investment banker. [laughter] Give you ideas about what to do. But I know surgery of the face pretty well. And the standard model for philanthropy for plastic surgery is to go to India and take care of children with cleft lips. Or go to Nicaragua, which is wonderful. But the problem is those children actually have many more problems than that. They have a lip, a palate... Right. ...a teeth problem. They have phonation, they have... they need PE tubes, and I used to go on those trips, and I would say, like, "Why don't we take care of this?" or "Why don't we take care of that?" And they'd say, "Well, we're the Cleft Lip Foundation." That's right. And I'm also looking at the amount of... how we can help, and how much need there is in this country, and in this community. I mean we operate on kids from Queens, from Harlem, from Brooklyn, all the time. And we provide these services for free. So these are life changing surgical events. Well when our friends at Century 21 told us about the organization, some of our producers were on the website, and it's just extraordinary. And so we thought it would be important for us to show a couple of pictures. Sure. And for you... I hate saying "before and after" but it is, before and after? Yeah. Yeah. Could we Jacqui? This is... is that Gabriel? That's actually a little girl that we brought here who had a birth... That's Aster, I'm sorry. Aster. And Aster lives in Ethiopia. And someone showed me an X-ray, a CT scan, of this child and said, "Can you help this kid?" And I said, "Well yeah, why not?" And then of course it took my year to get her here, and we flew her from Addis Ababa to Dubai..."