LWB Community Blog

2014 LWB Cleft Exchange – Saturday

Saturday morning, the doctors made their final rounds on the patients they have come to love.  This is always a very bittersweet time for a medical team, as they realize that such a wonderful experience is coming to a close.  It was time to say goodbye to all the great kids from Gansu.  We are so thankful that the majority of them are in our new school program at their orphanage, so we can follow their healing closely.

Robin was walking around more today, but she still isn’t able to talk since her throat is so sore from the p-flap surgery.  She will stay a few more days under the great care of Dr. Liu at Kaifeng Children’s Hospital, and then she will make her journey back to her orphanage.  The team absolutely fell in love with this intelligent, radiant young lady, and one of the doctors asked whether or not she could be adopted.  We explained that orphaned children in China cannot be adopted after their 14th birthday, and so sadly Robin is unable to have a permanent family.  Without a doubt, however, we will now be there for this remarkable young woman, and we will make sure she gets the rest of the surgeries and orthodontics she wants to have to feel beautiful.

Dr Derechin and Robin 4-26-14Robin and Dr. Derechin

On the last cleft trip, Dr. Ness had a special birthday which we celebrated with a “baby pile.”   This year, it was Dr. Tolan’s turn to celebrate his birthday with some of his patients.  We know someone in the room has the magic photo where everyone is looking at the camera, but for now we will share this one!   Happy birthday to an absolutely wonderful person!

dr tolan babyNo better birthday present!

The doctors went into Hanna’s room to do rounds and kept a very safe distance for as long as they could since she was clear she didn’t like the “big noses” any better today.  No one wanted her to rip her stitches from crying!  Pre-surgery, Hanna had a little spot on her cheek that had cartilage in it (probably a sinus), and Dr. Tolan removed it and made the area into a cute dimple.  For the side of her mouth, he worked with the muscles to make sure the scar wouldn’t affect her smile.  It’s difficult to describe in a blog, but just trust us…she looks amazing.

 Keeping our distance

Our team said goodbye to beautiful Liane and her grandparents, as well as baby Carlos.

Liane and Kathy 4-26-14 Dr. Clinch and Liane

Alana and Carlos 4-26-14 Alana and Carlos

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to Harley and Aimee as well.

Last minute loving with Harley and Aimee

The doctors spent a long time playing with the kids this morning, and everyone got a bit emotional when it was time to say goodbye.  No matter how much fun we all had together this week, the reality is that these wonderful kids live orphanages.  As we said goodbye in the hallway, there were more than a few tears.  So of course our volunteers had to ride down in the elevator to say goodbye a second time.  And then we had to follow them outside to say goodbye a third!

 Heading out

One last goodbye

Every orphaned child we met this week deserves a family to love them completely.  We will be praying for each and every one to be CHOSEN just as soon as they possibly can.

Harley in Dr. Tolan’s glasses

Maureen Brogan, our Director of Medical Exchanges, took the time tonight to write down some of her thoughts on another wonderful cleft trip.   As you read her words, we hope everyone who helped make this trip possible knows that YOU are a part of these children’s stories forever now.

As we were getting ready to do our last rounds at the hospital, I realized that this is the hardest part for me. We have spent the week as a close team working to make miracles happen. The team has done work that is powerful and transformative. We have clearly changed the lives of those around us.

As we wait for our van, we talk about the kids we have met, which child has claimed our heart, and the transformations we have witnessed.

The children are forever changed in appearance and in their ability to eat and talk.  

The hospital staff is changed by what they have witnessed in the “Love Wards”, as they too take these children into their hearts.

Families are changed, and communities are changed by the love they have witnessed.

Every child who has come into our hands has been loved from admission to discharge. We have modeled how to feed, care for, and simply shower love on these children who may have been shunned or abandoned because of their birth defects.

I am proud of the entire team, Chinese and American, medical staff and non-medical staff. I have watched and participated in an outpouring of love to these children and one young adult, many of whom have lived a life where they were often shunned or ignored because of their appearance.  Each patient was greeted at the door with warmth and homemade gifts — love from afar.  They have been kept company and played with while awaiting their turn, carried gently into surgery, and then sung a lullaby as they fell asleep.  They have been operated on with kindness and care, and then taken to a recovery room where two compassionate nurses calmed, rocked, and gently helped them wake up.  They were taken to their beds and greeted with smiles and tears as their caregivers or families saw their new faces for the first time. Love filled the rooms and halls of this hospital for a week.

The “Love Ward” signs will come down as the patients leave for their orphanage or homes, but all of us will be forever transformed by the work we have done. We will say long goodbyes to the hospital staff, the caregivers, the families and children, and to each other. We will give hugs, emails, and promises to keep in touch. By this afternoon, the entire team will be heading off in different directions.

We, too, are changed.  We have given love and care from our hearts, and yet we have received so much in return.

Great work, everyone. ~Maureen Brogan, Director of Medical Exchanges

Chris Maureen Yvonne



Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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