When I was pregnant, the thought of having twins was exciting and overwhelming. When I gave birth 7 weeks early, it was scary. But when I saw my baby girl for the first time, and she didn’t look as we expected, it was a huge mix of emotions.
Our daughter, Olivia, was born with a cleft lip and palate, a condition that’s oftentimes genetic but never ran in our family. Her twin brother, Owen, didn’t have the condition. Olivia was a month old when we met Dr. James Lehman and the amazing staff at Akron Children’s Hospital’s craniofacial center. They’ve been a huge part of our family ever since.
Olivia underwent her first surgery when she was just 3 months old. Seventeen years and 9 surgeries later, I now see a tough, hard-working and phenomenal teenager who’s coming out of her shell. We love seeing her smile and marveling at what a beautiful person she is – inside and out.
Olivia developed a special bond with Dr. Lehman while he was at Akron Children’s. He was sweet, caring and truly took the time to get to know her and our family.
Last year, we were sad to learn he was retiring and wouldn’t be performing Olivia’s final procedure – the one that would change her appearance the most. But as soon as we met Dr. Ananth Murthy, all our concerns were alleviated. He expertly cared for her just like Dr. Lehman did, as if she was his only patient.
Olivia will continue to make yearly appointments at Akron Children’s craniofacial center until she’s 21. The care and love that we receive from its staff is unbelievable. Everyone is so helpful and always willing to answer any question. It’s truly been a life-changing experience. I don’t know where we’d be without them.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that there’s a plan for us all. This experience with Dr. Lehman has taught us the value in dedicating your life to helping others.
In June, Dr. James Lehman Jr.’s extraordinary 43-year career at Akron Children’s Hospital will be honored by formally renaming the Craniofacial Center to the James A. Lehman Jr. MD, Craniofacial Center at Akron Children’s Hospital.