How NBC Exec Jennifer Salke's Teenage Son Is Making a Difference in Kids' Lives

Aaron Fallon

Fifteen-year-old Henry Salke, who was born with a cleft palate, has accompanied craniofacial surgeon Dr. William Magee, featured in THR's Top Doctors issue, on missions around the world

This story first appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Fifteen years ago, when Jennifer Salke's son Henry was born, it was instantly apparent that he had a cleft palate; Cedars-Sinai's Dr. John Reinisch subsequently fixed the craniofacial malady with two surgeries.

At 8, Henry, wishing to connect with other kids who had similar experiences, created a fundraising page for Operation Smile, a foundation that offers free surgeries (220,000 to date) to repair cleft lips and palates. That caught the attention of founder Dr. William Magee Jr., and since then, Salke and Henry have accompanied the surgeon on missions, even flying to Mexico City in August.

"I watched Bill perform hours of intricate surgery on babies' faces," says Salke. "I always relate to a worried mother who … gives her baby to be put under anesthesia for hours. I show parents Henry's before and after pictures. It washes away so much worry. When they see their children, they are in love because their babies are OK and they've done the right thing for them."

Magee, who maintains a private practice in Norfolk, Va., while serving as co-director of The Institute of Craniofacial and Plastic Surgery in the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, adds: "Jennifer understands the position and has the contacts to change people's lives worldwide. That's her uniqueness among her peers." 

More From THR's Top Doctors Issue:

Hollywood's Top Doctors Revealed: Exclusive Survey

See The Doctors With Their Famous Patients

Hollywood's Vaccine Wars: L.A.'s "Entitled" Westsiders Behind City's Epidemic

Hollywood's Biggest Anti-Vaccine Proponents

Hollywood Vaccination Fail: Why L.A. Schoolkids Are Getting Sick

How to Live Forever: The (Mad?) Science Hollywood Is Using to "Cure" Death

"I'm Going to Live Forever": Hollywood Elders' Best Quotes About Aging

Is Working in Hollywood Bad for Your Health?

L.A.'s Emergency Rooms, Rated

Meet the Real-Life McDreamy: The Doctor Behind 'Grey's Anatomy'

4 NYC-Based Physicians Loved by L.A.

NY Giants' Steve Tisch Reveals His $10M Plan to Further Concussion Research

Meet Morgan Freeman's Sikh

Chris Albrecht Recounts His Daughter's Harrowing Car Accident

Voice Doctor Who Treats KISS' Paul Stanley Shares His Advice to Rock-Star Clients