“You’re beautiful the way you are and if people tease you, it’s only because they are insecure.” This is Gabby Hoeper’s advice for other kids that have port-wine birth marks. Gabby, 11, has received 19 laser treatments at Shriners Hospitals for Children®-Boston, starting in 2002, when she was two years old, after her dad, Russell, learned about Shriners-Boston through a web article.
Doctors initially told Gabby’s parents that the birth mark, extending from her hairline to her jaw, was simply a bruise and nothing to be concerned about. However, Russell and his wife felt differently and began researching port-wine stains, realizing that future health problems down the road made surgery a top priority.
When Gabby arrived at Shriners-Boston only two months after her father read the article, she felt at home. While in the play area, she ran over to her mother and cheerfully exclaimed, “There are kids here just like me!” The Hoepers knew they had made the right choice with Shriners-Boston. Russell said the only word he can use to describe their experience at Shriners-Boston is “phenomenal.”
Dr. Eric Liao, MD, PhD, was recently honored as a Research Grant Award winner by the Plastic Surgery Foundation for groundbreaking research that he and his team are conducting, focused on correcting clefts at the cellular level. The team is using zebra-fish models to develop strategies to correct cleft-palate malformation before the palate has formed at the seventh or eighth week of gestation.
Since 2008, Dr. Liao has been an assistant in surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children®-Boston. He specializes in treating autoplasty cases and congenital repairs, particularly for our patients with cleft lip and/or palate. His expertise in cleft-lip and -palate repair applies to his clinical work as well as his research endeavors.