Reconstruction Aid Gives Hope to Families

By Melanie Gracye West for The Wall Street Journal

Laura Posada and Jorge PosadaLaura Posada, the wife of former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, is stepping up to the plate to raise money for children in need of facial-reconstruction surgery.

It is a cause particularly close to the Posadas. Their oldest child, Jorge Jr., was born with craniosynostosis, a condition where the joints of a baby’s skull close too quickly, affecting the growth of the brain. Children with the condition usually undergo surgery to open the fused areas of the skull.

Mrs. Posada’s son, now a teenager, has had more than 10 surgeries, she said, the most recent of which was just this summer for his eye muscle. “We have been blessed to have all of the resources for his surgeries and his medical care,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to imagine if we couldn’t take care of that.”

But for families that can’t cover the cost of surgeries and treatments, there is the New York-based myFace, an organization founded in 1951 and formerly called the National Foundation for Facial Reconstruction. Mrs. Posada serves on the organization’s board of directors.

With an annual budget of $3 million, myFace funds the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. The charity covers the cost of surgeries, doctors, speech pathologists, psychologists and nutritionists.

MyFace patients are typically children who have a jaw deformity, a cleft lip or palate, a missing ear or a defect of the skull or facial bones, among other facial deformities that can affect a child’s hearing, vision or ability to eat and breathe. The charity assists children regardless of need; some 70% of the 2,000 patients served annually by myFace are considered poor.

The Posadas became involved with myFace about 13 years ago, shortly after Mrs. Posada had her son. Jorge Jr. was 10 days old when the family flew from Puerto Rico to New York to see Joseph McCarthy, a plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center and a doctor with Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.

MyFace has become a “mission in life and my destiny,” said Mrs. Posada, who lives in Miami and is a television personality and life coach. She knows what it is like to have “no hope,” she said.

“When Jorge was diagnosed, I didn’t have any help from anybody. No other kids to look at to give me any inspiration that my son was going to be OK,” she said.

Earlier this summer, the Posadas helped to raise $800,000 for myFace at an event in New York. Last year, they donated money to cover the cost of a children’s playroom at NYU Langone that is used by myFace patients.

To be more efficient with their giving and their fundraising, the Posadas recently closed their personal foundation and rolled assets into a special fund at myFace. They will be concentrating their fundraising efforts exclusively on myFace now, Mrs. Posada said.

“What we are doing is changing faces, changing lives,” she said.

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