2014 LWB Cleft Exchange – Thursday
Today was both an operating day and an education seminar day in China, so everyone on the team had very long hours. As we have mentioned in past blogs, LWB no longer does “missions,” but instead “exchanges,” as we want long-term impact to come from our trips. Today, surgeons from throughout Henan province came to Kaifeng for several training seminars, led by our team and the wonderful doctors at Kaifeng Children’s Hospital. Lots of useful information on cleft surgery and pediatric anesthesia was shared.
At the end of the seminar, all four doctors on our team were presented with permanent Chinese medical licenses. They can now come back and operate in China any time they would like, without having to reapply. That is a true honor.
Back at the hospital, it was time to say goodbye to our three Anhui Healing Home babies. Little Maureen was flashing smiles to everyone. Her nanny talks to her all the time, so we know that with her tongue release surgery being done, Maureen is soon going to be imitating everything said to her.
Winston was a little fussy today, especially while his nanny was cleaning his incision and putting ointment on it. Sometimes the repairs are so transformative that it is easy to forget just how complex the clefts were before. We think you will agree that Winston’s surgery was simply amazing.
As each nanny leaves the hospital, we give them several hats and bibs that were made and donated by our wonderful supporters. They are very grateful for these items which were made with love, and it was so much fun to see which hats elicited the most giggles today. For some reason, this cat-eared hat on Luce had everyone in hysterics.
Baby Luce still has not whimpered even once post-surgery. His nanny said it is because he never cries when being held, so she just holds him all the time! When she saw all of the bags and gifts she was going to have to carry with her on the train, along with the baby of course, she dissolved into laughter. We are certainly blessed with amazing caregivers at the healing home.
Today up in the OR, Dr. Ness operated on three children: Carlos, Lauren, and Austin. Carlos did beautifully both during and after surgery and slept peacefully most of the afternoon.
Lauren is a rural child from a village about three hours from the hospital. Her parents read about our team in the paper and immediately came to the hospital asking for help for their daughter’s open palate, which is a very complex and fragile one. Lauren has been one very stoic little girl. We kept trying to get her to smile for her intake photos, with no luck. At one point our doctors were even photobombing her trying to get her to giggle…alas, to no avail. Once Lauren was on the ward, however, she was very polite and quiet, and she loved playing with the sticker books our team gave her. After her surgery, she was extremely brave. Even though she was in a great deal of pain, she never made a sound. The only way the team knew she was hurting was because one little tear was coming down her cheek.
Harley and Aimee were both feeling much better today. They’re going to stay another night because the doctors want to make sure everything is healed nicely before they begin their long journey back to Guangdong province. We gave hats to them as well, and they simply lit up. Harley decided he needed to wear all four of his hats at the same time, and he also enjoyed trying to get one on his nanny’s head.
Both kids really enjoyed playing with stickers today and greeted our team with waves each time they came in or out. We know their friends at the orphanage school will not believe the difference in their appearance.
Robin is still in a great deal of pain since her surgery was so complex. She is also having pain on her side where they removed a piece of her rib. They are allowing her to have a pain drip for now, so thankfully she is sleeping most of the time. Robin will be kept until at least Saturday, as she has quite a bit of recovery left to do. Karis, Jennifer, Madeline, and Kenny were all still pretty sore today. Their repairs look beautiful, and hopefully by tomorrow they will be feeling so much better. They will have a long train ride back to Gansu over the weekend.
Little Liane, the baby being raised by her rural grandparents, was Dr. Tolan’s first case of the day. Dr. Clinch took her back to the OR and sang, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to her while she fell asleep. Her surgery went very well, but we will just say that when she woke up, she didn’t like her arm restraints one little bit! She had a hard time settling down, but finally she was approved to eat and that helped immensely. What an amazing difference in one day!
The teams in the OR have completely bonded, and all of the surgeries today have gone so smoothly. It’s really an incredible thing that doctors and nurses speaking both Mandarin and English can so quickly find their rhythm together.
There truly is something magical that happens when everyone is concentrated completely on giving each child the most beautiful repair possible.
Right before Rosemary was headed to surgery, her orphanage called and said they had just learned today that she was matched to an adoptive family! Some quick phone calls were made back and forth, and we found out the new parents want to be with her when she has her palate repair, so she was taken off the schedule for today. Everyone is thrilled that she was chosen for adoption, as she is such a wonderful little girl.
While Lauren was getting ready for surgery today, her parents came to our team and said that there was another little girl in their village with “a very strange cleft.” They asked if there was any way she could be helped as well. We told them that as long as she could get there as quickly as possible, she could be evaluated. Within hours, her family arrived to the hospital hoping something could be done for their little girl. Her name is Hanna, and she does have a very complex side mouth cleft, which involves most of the muscles in her cheek. We are so glad we can add her onto the schedule tomorrow to give her a more accepted appearance. Hanna did not like the white doctors one little bit, however. Everyone was laughing because Hanna kept yelling “Bu yao da bizi!” again and again at the top of her voice. (Simple translation – “I don’t want the big nose people!” ) Completely priceless.
The last case of the day was baby Ander. He was a very good sport for not getting to eat all day long. Dr. Tolan and Dr. Clinch went down together to bring him up to the OR. We don’t have an after photo of him yet but will post one tomorrow.
Right after the surgeries, our team went to a wonderful banquet given by Kaifeng Children’s Hospital. It was a really fun evening, with so much camaraderie. Everyone was taking photos together as real friendships were cemented this week. This is the second year we have operated at Kaifeng Children’s Hospital, and it has been so wonderful to work once more with such great doctors and nurses in China. Love truly does dissolve boundaries between countries.
Some of you know the story of Tim, a young man who grew up in the Kaifeng orphanage and who has been supported for higher education through LWB. Tim thought he wanted to be a dentist someday, but a few years ago he met Dr. Ness on one of our cleft trips. He was so inspired by Dr. Ness coming to China to help orphaned children that he set a goal for himself to become a doctor himself someday. We are all so proud of Tim, as he is now finishing up his first year of medical school! Tim was able to spend several days with our team in the OR this week, and both Dr. Tolan and Dr. Ness showed him their special surgical knot tying techniques. All of the doctors encouraged Tim to keep working as hard as he can, and then he will be leading an LWB surgery trip himself someday!
Tomorrow will be our last day of surgeries, with five children heading to the OR. Dr. Ness will be operating on Hanna and Run, and baby Alana from an orphanage in Guizhou.
Dr. Tolan will be operating on two rural children, Jason and Tian.
Stay tuned for news from Friday! There just aren’t enough words to thank everyone who sponsored children for surgery this week. We couldn’t do it without you!