LWB Community Blog

2014 LWB Cleft Exchange – Friday

Alana 4-25-14Our team’s last operating day was a very good one.   Baby Alana was the first patient for Dr. Ness, and she came through surgery beautifully.   Her repair looks fantastic, and we are so happy she was able to have surgery despite her tiny size.  Alana is from a very rural orphanage in southwest Guizhou.  We hope that by having this surgery done, she will now be able to feed better and gain much needed weight.

Jason, Run, and Tian all received surgery today as well, with wonderful results.  They have the most caring mommas, which of course is such a blessing.

Waiting for their turn

Tian Tian ready for the OR

Soon it was time for Hanna’s case, which everyone knew would be quite complex.

Han 4-25-14 Hanna before surgery

Hanna’s family, as we mentioned yesterday on the blog, is from the same village as Lauren, near the Yellow River.  Her family lives in extreme poverty and has a very difficult life.  Their home has just three crumbling walls with plastic bags for the roof.  Hanna has a younger sister, and her mom is ready to deliver her third daughter at any time. The mom told us that two additional baby girls, in between Hanna and her sister, sadly passed away as infants.  Lauren’s parents are very concerned about this family and asked if there was anything we could do to help them.

All of the U.S. and Chinese surgeons scrubbed in on Hanna’s case since it would be a difficult one. Transverse facial cleft, or Congenital Macrostomia, is an extremely rare birth defect.  While no one knows the exact incidence, some researchers estimate it only occurs once in every 150,000 to 300,000 births.


The surgeons did a beautiful job with the repair, and we will hopefully have more on Hanna’s recovery soon.

hanna post surgery Hanna post-surgery – so beautiful!

The rest of the children on the ward today were very subdued as they went about the essential task of recovering.  Melissa had a fever today, so she wasn’t feeling well at all.

Melissa 4-25-14 (2) Sweet Melissa

Madeline was refusing to eat today, which was a concern.  The nannies spooned milk in her mouth, but she refused to swallow since her palate repair is so sore.

Madeline Madeline

Thankfully, Karis and Kenny both seemed quite content today.   We know they will be so happy to get those arm restraints off soon. Karis even managed a few giggles with one of our great China directors, Cindy.

Karis 4-25-14 (5) Karis

Kenny 4-25-14 Kenny

Harley and Aimee had their usual joyful spirits again today.  Dr. Ness and Aimee now have a game where he goes  into the room and pretends to call her on his cell. She answers on her little plastic phone, and then they talk in his limited Chinese.  (“Nihao, XieXie, Zaijian”…”Hello, thank you, goodbye.”)  Aimee finds this quite hysterical.

Aimee 4-25-14 (1)Aimee:  “May I please speak to Dr. Ness?”

Aimee Dr Ness

Dr. Tolan and his patient Harley had a great time playing together today as well.   The doctors are very  happy with how his complex repair is healing.

Harley Dr Tolan Harley:  “High Five, Dr. Tolan!”

Neil was also back in good spirits today.  He really enjoyed playing for a final few moments with our team before it was time for him to head back to Anhui.  He is such a great kid, and we will all be hoping 2014 is his year to find a permanent family.

NeilNeil, ready for his forever family to find him

Vicente looked great today and is ready to be discharged.  We are sending many homemade bibs and hats back with his nanny to Maria’s House of Hope.

Vicente (2) Vicente managed a tiny grin

Robin got out of bed this morning to walk, and she was sitting up more alert the rest of the day.  She’s still on pain meds that make her sleepy, but that’s a good thing since she is definitely still sore.  Our team is sad that they will be leaving before she is back to her sunny self, but we are so glad we got to play a role in her life story.  Dr. Tolan made a small cast for her nose which will stay on for several more weeks.

 Robin and her new friends

Ander, Carlos, and Austin all look good after their surgeries yesterday afternoon.  Austin was having a difficult time and didn’t sleep very much last night, so we know his nanny is hoping tonight will be a bit calmer.  Ander was understandably uncomfortable today as well, but managed to get in some serious nap time.  Carlos was quiet and content all day, even with a tiny roll of gauze in his nostril!

Austin 4-25-14 (2)1 Austin:  “I have a serious owie.”

Ander 4-25-141 - Copy Ander snoozing

Carlos 4-25-14 (2)1Carlos: “I am being a good sport about this thing in my nose.”

Poor Lauren wasn’t feeling well today at all.  Her pain medication was making her sick to her stomach, and let’s just face it…having the entire roof of your mouth rebuilt in surgery gives anyone the right to be somber.  Her parents are so attentive to her every need, and we know she will recover well under their care.

Lauren (2)

We are proud to have so many great team members on this cleft exchange – doctors, nurses, and volunteers.  We wish we had time to profile every single one of them.  They all paid their own way to China and gave up vacation time to serve the children, and for that we are so thankful.

Dr. Neil Derechin is an anesthesiologist from Minnesota who is such a humble, compassionate person. Today, all the doctors and nurses decided it was time he was honored properly for being the dedicated doctor he is. What a fun photo!

 We love you, Dr. Derechin!

Baby Liane was looking wonderful today.  She has such loving grandparents!  They were explaining that since they are farmers, they simply strap her to their backs and take her with them to work the fields each day.  They said that is why her skin is so tan.  Our team is  so impressed that they have been able to keep this beautiful little girl so chubby and healthy since she was never able to drink from a bottle due to her cleft.  They said they spooned formula into her mouth one teaspoon at a time. That sure is complete devotion.  We will be getting their contact information so we can follow up and help Liane with her palate operation in the future.

Liane Grandparents Liane and her grandparents

Tomorrow our team will make their final rounds at the hospital, and then it is time for their journeys back to the U.S.

Thirty surgeries done over the last five days.

Thirty transformations, thanks to your support!

These trips are about so much more than just the surgeries though, of course.  They are about building cross-cultural friendships, modeling love and devotion for children born with medical issues, and encouraging everyone who is able to play their part in making the world a kinder place.  It is up to each of us to change the way the world views children born with special needs.  We are beyond grateful to you for helping us do just that!

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