During Liane Rensing’s 20-week ultrasound, it was discovered that her baby, Mila, had a cleft lip. This diagnosis expanded when Mila was born with a right-sided incomplete unilateral cleft lip and a complete cleft palate.

The first year of her life brought challenges to the Rensing family as they learned to navigate caring for Mila. “We learned how to feed and take care of her with feeding devices like special nipples and bottles,” explains Liane. “We had to figure out how to tape specifically designed appliances to Mila’s nose and forehead to prepare her for her cleft surgeries. Miami felt like our second home since we traveled there for Mila’s numerous surgeries and appointments.”

In their pursuit of finding the best care for Mila as she grew older, the Rensing family discovered Nemours Children’s Health. Their first experience with Nemours Children’s was with an audiology test and sleep consultations with Dr. Kanamori at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Florida. As the Rensings’ health insurance changed, the family needed a cleft team for Mila as well, and they hoped to find one closer to home. “After doing some researching online,” says Liane, “I learned that Nemours Children’s Health had a newly established cleft team and was on our health insurance plan. I was so excited to get Mila in there and it was closer to home! We immediately made an appointment to see Dr. Kellogg and his amazing Cleft and Craniofacial Team.”

“Dr. Kellogg has amazing bedside manners and I felt like he truly listened to our concerns and questions. I could tell right away that he is very compassionate and understanding. He was very thorough and informative and got us on the right track of what is next for Mila in her Cleft journey. All the other physicians, clinicians, nurses, speech pathologists, etc. were very supportive and guided us in the right directions as well.”

Mila underwent alveolar bone graft surgery at Nemours in March of 2023. During this procedure, Dr. Leto Barone borrowed bone marrow from Mila’s right hip, which Dr. Kellogg used to repair the cleft in the gumline and to support eruption of her adult teeth. Post-surgery, Mila healed exceptionally well, and a 6-month follow-up revealed promising news—bone growth from the graft! The Rensing family is overjoyed, and Mila is on the path to recovery.

Mila’s strength goes beyond her medical journey. She has a passion for ghost hunting, YouTube videos, and a love for nature. Now nine years old, Mila’s plans for the future are as spirited as her personality. She aims to continue advocating and raising awareness for those affected by cleft lip and palate or craniofacial differences. Her dedication extends to fundraising for Nemours Children’s Hospital, Florida Center for Cleft and Craniofacial Differences. Additionally, the family hosts an annual “Rensing Holiday House Light Display ” that not only dazzles the community but also raises funds for Nemours and Operation Smile, continuing a long family tradition of giving back.

Liane shares this advice for families on a similar journey: “Take one thing at a time… there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Do your research for your child on the best physicians and care for them like we did when we found Nemours. You are the only advocate your child has, so you fight for her/him for the best care your child could ever need or receive.”

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