Baby Lewis is set to make medical history; Youngster will be 1,000th to have lip and palate operation by specialist surgeon.
Byline: Lyndsay Oxley Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE Coulby Newham youngster will be part of a medical milestone next week as he becomes the 1,000th baby to have a cleft lip and palate operation by a specialist surgeon.
Six-month-old Lewis Hatfield, who was born eight weeks early on May 24, has both a cleft lip and cleft palate.
He will be the 1,000th baby to undergo surgery by specialist cleft lip and palate surgeon Peter Hodgkinson to correct the cleft lip and part of the soft palate behind the gum.
This delicate operation will take around two hours and will be the first to treat the areas of Lewis's mouth which did not fully form while in the womb.
Lewis's parents have been preparing for this moment since before he was born as his condition was seen on the 20 week scan at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Lewis's mother Michelle Satterthwaite, 31, who works as a fundraiser at Butterwick Hospice in Stockton, said: "Within 24 hours of the scan we were visited by a nurse who specialises in this condition. She explained everything to us and started to prepare us for the surgery that Lewis would need when he was a little older.
"We had a 4D scan which was amazing to see as it showed up so much detail and we could see exactly what our baby looked like.
"It was not what you expect. It was a shock but everyone has been brilliant."
4D scans show moving 3D images, with time being the fourth dimension.
Mr Hodgkinson has led The northern region's cleft lip and palate service since 2002. It is based at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary where the operation will take place next Wednesday.
He said: "After a couple of days, Lewis will be able to go home and get used to the changes in his mouth.
"We will then keep an eye on Lewis's progress and he will come back in another four or five months for further surgery to his palate.
"After this, we will leave Lewis's mouth until he is around eight or nine years old, when his second set of teeth are ready to come in and then we will see if he needs to have further surgery on the upper gum."
Lewis's dad Paul Hat-field, 29, a weapons engineer in the Royal Navy, will be returning home from the Middle East in time for the operation.
Michelle said: "I am feeling really anxious but I know he is in good hands.
"I was upset. You are bound to be but once they are born you think 'why was I so worried? Everything is going to be fine. Don't let it ruin your pregnancy because it does not need to.'" Mr Hodgkinson added: "During my time as a surgeon I have seen many radical changes in medical technology and clinical techniques and I am personally delighted to see so many children benefiting from this life-changing surgery.
"It's a pleasure to get to know the families so well and see each child leave our clinics with a beautiful smile on their face."
Lewis Hatfield, left and above with mum Michelle