Friday was a wonderful and exhausting day in Kaifeng as the LWB 2012 cleft trip entered its final day.
Ten surgeries were completed today, which brought the total number of children healed to 49. One baby had to be disqualified from surgery this morning due to infection, but we all agree that 49 lives changed is a wonderful accomplishment in just five days of surgery. Both the US medical team and the China medical team feel that the trip was a complete success, and they are already talking about when they can get together again in the future to help more children in need.
As the medical team made rounds today, they were happy to find all of the kids doing well post op. Betsy, the eight year old girl who became orphaned last year, was able to give a little smile today even with her lip repair.
Blaise, whose original lip repair last year in China had ripped open, still looked wonderful today, thank goodness. Dr. Ness had done everything possible in the OR to make sure this repair stays! (no moving, little Blaise!)
Jacob, from the Henan Healing Home, had a complex bilateral repair done yesterday, but he was already up and feeling so much better today.
Today Dr. Ness operated on Eli, Bennett, Gale, Ci, and Abigail, with Dr. Tolan operating on Abby, Han, Christopher, Theo and then another child from the rural part of Henan. The mom who arrived at the hospital today looking for help for her baby girl was very young, and Dr. Tolan was more than happy to add her precious daughter to his schedule. Sadly, news of our team was on television today in China, and as our team had just finished ending their surgery day, more rural families were arriving hoping to find help. It is always so hard to leave knowing there are more children waiting to be healed.
All of the surgeries went beautifully today, although sweet little Abby from our healing home was having some post op issues. Many of you will remember that she is the baby who came into our hands so weak and failure to thrive, and even though she has gained much needed weight, she still wasn’t clearing the anesthesia well. Our head RN Maureen sat with her for over an hour while she recovered, and when they left tonight Abby was doing much better.
I had asked the team why we weren’t getting any post op photos of Georgia and Juliana, and was told today that it is because these two little girls have decided they don’t like our foreign team members AT ALL. If anyone comes within 50 feet of them, they both start crying, so their nannies were asking us not to come near. They couldn’t resist trying one more time today though – to no avail!
LWB has been helping an older boy who grew up in the Kaifeng orphanage for the last few years with schooling, and he had told us several years ago that Dr. Ness was his hero. We had arranged for him to travel to Fujian province in 2010 to help our team so he could meet Dr. Ness in person, and he came once again to this trip to help as well. His dream is to go to medical school someday so that he can help babies “just like Dr. Ness”. Today was a very special day for him as he was invited to scrub up and go into the OR to watch surgery being performed. He was amazed at what artists the doctors are. We hope we can help him in any way possible to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor in China.
All of the rural families who came to the hospital this week hoping their children could be healed are just so appreciative to our sponsors who were willing to help with their surgeries. Many of you know that one of the most life impacting moments I have ever experienced was in 2005, when a young birthmother fell to my feet sobbing and pleading for us to heal her 28 day old baby girl. She told me that her daughter was being taken away from her in just 2 days by extended family…..to be abandoned… as they refused to allow a child with cleft to remain in the family. Tragically, we were not able to help that woman, as her baby was just too young, but I think about her often with real heartache wondering whatever became of her daughter whom she loved so much. I see her face in the faces of all of the young mothers who came to see our team this week – with the same hope that their children could be healed and then accepted for the beautiful kids they are. I mean it sincerely when I say that everyone who supported this trip, with their funds, their gifts, and their prayers, has impacted lives in ways we can’t even imagine.
So on this final day of surgeries, I send my deepest thanks. We are so very grateful that you have partnered with us to change the lives of so many incredible kids.
Chris and Maureen will be blogging when they get back to the US with some final thoughts from the trip. We can’t wait to share more photos and stories of the children you have helped.
~Amy Eldridge, Executive Director