1. ITV Report

Ely family raises awareness of cleft surgery

Tom Murfitt, 22 months old, has already had three operations on his cleft lip and palate Photo: ITV News Anglia

A charity which helps families of children born with a condition which requires major facial surgery in the first few months of their life, is marking its 35th anniversary this year.

The Cleft Lip and Palate Association now has 22,000 members across the UK looking to it for support and help.

All babies born with clefts across the East of England have their surgery at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Tom Murfitt was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and now as he approaches his 2nd Birthday, he has already had three major operations.

Tom Murfitt after his second operation at 6 months old Credit: The Murfitt family

Tom's next operation won't be until his adult teeth start to come through. He will be in specialist care until he is 18 years old and then he has the option for continued care if needed.

Tom after his third operation at 9 months old Credit: Murfitt family

Mr Tariq Ahmad is an NHS Consultant Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon, working at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

The Hospital is the main regional specialist centre for cleft surgery for the whole of the East of England.

Tariq Ahmad Credit: ITV News Anglia

Most of the time it's just one of those things like being born with more prominent ears, it's just variations you might see from time to time. But if you think of it broadly, it's a mixture of both your family, your genes, the genetics and the environment. We know you can get identical twins that have the same genes, with one person having a cleft and one not. So you know it's not entirely genetic.

– Tariq Ahmad, NHS Cleft surgeon

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Emily Knight.