Romeo--when he arrived at the ship...just days old.
He was born with a Cleft Lip.
Baby Romeo Touloulou was born on February 25th, 2010. He came into this world with a cleft lip and palate, a condition seen more often in West Africa than in the developed world.
Romeo’s mother, Badokideou, wanted to know why his lip looked the way it did, and how she could fix it. She was told to go to the hospital in Lomé. A kind stranger at the Lomé, Togo hospital told her about Mercy Ships. This was a place—a ship—where she could go to receive free medical treatment. She was told that they perform cleft lip and palate surgeries.
Romeo arrived on the Africa Mercy when he was 1 week old.
Romeo’s condition was common and it was determined that surgery could be done: but he had to gain weight first. He was enrolled in Mercy Ship’s Infant Feeding Program. Because of the cleft lip and palate, it was difficult for Romeo to get the breast milk he needed to grow. The cleft palate allowed the milk to go into the hole in the roof of his mouth, causing him to spit up. He was not getting the nutrition he needed, and he weighted only 2.61kg.
Infant Feeding Program Nurse Melissa Davey worked with Badokideou, teaching her an alternative method of feeding. The cup method worked best for Romeo. Mercy Ships would give the mother formula and she would feed it to Romeo through a small plastic cup. Since he is not sucking to get his food, there is less spitting up and more of the formula goes into his stomach.
Time passed and sure enough, Romeo gained weight. He began to look healthy and strong. Romeo and Badokideou came to the ship once a week and Romeo would weigh-in and get measured. Then, they were given enough formula to last them the week, until they came back to the ship. He was making progress and Nurse Melissa Davey was confident he would be able to have surgery.
There was a certain weight goal he had to reach in order to be operated on. It was a good day when Romeo reached that goal and Mercy Ships performed surgery, repairing his cleft lip.
Here is Romeo after he had reached the appropriate weight to have surgery.
Even after the surgery, Badokideou has continued feeding Romeo via the cup method, yielding great results. Happily, Romeo has grown to 6.13 kg. Romeo still has a cleft palate that will have to be repaired at another time, but the Infant Feeding Program at Mercy Ships has given him a healthy start to life. If Badokideou had not been taught an alternate method of feeding Romeo, he may have suffered from malnutrition and his health could have declined drastically.
Thanks to Melissa and the rest of the Infant Feeding Program team, Romeo will have a chance at a healthy life. He was lucky to have been born at a time when the Africa Mercy was in port in Lomé, Togo. He had perfect timing, and now he is a healthy and happy 5-month-old boy.
I mean, adorable much?
Melissa and Romeo
Romeo and his beautiful mom.....Badokideou
FAT Romeo!! :)