LWB Community Blog

2014 LWB Cleft Exchange – Tuesday

Tyrone smilingTuesday was another great day in Kaifeng.  Eight children received their surgeries, with one last minute substitution.   When it comes to cleft surgery, there are three important “tens.”   We want the kids to be 10 weeks old, weigh at least 10 pounds, and have a hemoglobin (iron level) of 10 as well.  All of the kids must have pre-op bloodwork done, and yesterday Tyrone’s came in low.  The doctors wanted to repeat it again today to make sure it was accurate, and unfortunately they discovered he is quite anemic.  He was already in his gown when the new numbers came in, and while we were disappointed he wouldn’t have surgery, he looks tickled pink, doesn’t he, that he got a last minute reprieve?  We are going to be running some more tests on him to see what could be going on, as his iron levels actually dropped even further from one day to the next. Since Tyrone didn’t qualify, that opened up an immediate surgery spot for another child, but the problem is that most of the kids had already eaten that morning. Melissa had been “on deck” and the nanny wasn’t feeding her, but as our team walked in, it was discovered that little Madeline, her partner in crime, had been sneaking little bites of bread to her friend that morning.  That meant Melissa was quickly disqualified as well.

Madeline (4)“Who, me?  What did I do?  I was just sharing!”

Our team leader went room to room hoping someone hadn’t eaten yet that morning.  Baby Maureen was just getting ready to have her bottle but thankfully hadn’t taken that first sip.  Emergency substitution found!  Maureen was put into a hospital gown and soon was on her way to the OR.

maureen surgeryMaureen in surgery

Maureen (3)Maureen right after her operation

Harley and Aimee were their usual happy selves this morning, playing with their new toys and chasing each other around the ward.  The doctors knew both of their surgeries would be extremely complex.  It is very important to our team that the wonderful kids on this trip feel completely covered in love from the moment they arrive until the moment we say goodbye. Dr Tolan and Harley

Both kids went happily back to the OR, where the anesthesiologists joked and played with them as they were getting prepped. Kathy and Harley

Dr. Clinch held Harley the entire time she was putting him under anesthesia so he wouldn’t have even a moment of being afraid.   After the surgeries, the kids get lots of gentle and loving touches in the PACU as well.  Harley woke up being cradled by nurse Sandy, and she softly sang him a lullaby.

harley getting love post op

Once he was fully awake, he was back to his completely curious self, and even insisted on sitting up so he could see everything as he was rolled back to the ward.

Harley post surgery 1

Dr. Tolan’s repair is nothing short of amazing.

Harley post op

Little Aimee had a wide and very complex cleft.  This incredible little girl had sadly received the nickname of “Hippo” from older kids in her orphanage, due to her appearance.  Dr. Ness was determined to give her the most beautiful repair possible to match her inner spirit.

Surgery (2)

After surgery, he said it was definitely one of the hardest cleft cases he has ever done.  Aimee also got lots of loving in the PACU as she woke up with nurse Meg, and when our team left tonight she was sleeping soundly next to her nanny.

aimee post op

Today the LWB “Love Ward” was THE place to be in the hospital as there were lots of games and fun music playing.  Children from other rooms came in as well, so it was a real gathering place for all.

Melissa Madeline Lanzhou

Madeline and Melissa were happy to greet everyone, and they were delighted when our volunteers gave them some princess crowns of their very own.  Both of these little girls are in our orphanage school program in Gansu.  Our doctors feel that Madeline most likely has some form of dwarfism, but aren’t sure which type. She is such a sunny and friendly little girl, and we all hope she is chosen quickly for adoption once her file is completed.

Melissa princesses

Little Austin is one of the babies who just barely made weight yesterday.  He has an extra finger on one of his hands, so X-rays were done today to see if it had bones in it or not.  Our doctors will most likely remove it during his cleft surgery if no bones are involved.

Austin (2)Austin

Robert Owen, Ted, and Paul all looked wonderful today after their surgeries on Monday. They will be discharged tomorrow if all goes as planned.  Our team will miss them so much, as these are little boys who absolutely love to snuggle.

Robert Owen (5)

We all wonder who their lucky families will be someday. We will insert a very shameless plug here – PLEASE CONSIDER WAITING CHILD ADOPTION!  Recently we talked to two different adoption agencies who said they didn’t have a single client open to adopting a boy.


These wonderful kids all deserve loving homes.  We even made a video you can watch after reading this blog about the joys of adopting a son. (Yes, this is Amy writing…mother of five boys!  End of plug and remember…boys totally rock).

hugs from team Winston and Luce, two wonderful boys  from our Anhui Healing Home, both had their surgeries today as well. Surgery (4)

Their repairs look incredible, and thankfully both boys were very calm and quiet when they woke up. The doctors said they could take some food by spoon later in the afternoon, so that made Winston quite happy.

Luce (5)Luce

Winston post op (2)Winston

Tomorrow is going to be a very full day.  In Dr. Ness’s OR, we will have little Madeline, Kenny, Neil, and Karis.

Neil (2)Neil: “I think you are taking the Easter theme a bit too far.”

Neil is in our foster care program in Anhui, and his foster parents worry about him being bullied in school due to the high tone of his voice.  He will be getting a p-flap to help with that.

Kenny (2)Kenny

Both Kenny and Karis have recovered wonderfully from their illnesses, so it is now their turn to have their smiles transformed as well.

Karis (2)Karis

Dr. Tolan will be doing three surgeries tomorrow:  Vicente, Jennifer, and then Robin, the older girl from southern China.


Robin’s surgery will be very complex, so it will take up most of the day.  Today Dr. Tolan sat down with her and explained exactly what he can and can’t do to help her.


He will be working on her nose and then will give her a p-flap surgery which will help her voice.  She had asked him about her teeth, which she is very self-conscious of, but he explained that cannot be done through surgery.


Today our team had an extra special surprise when beautiful CuiCui, one of our patients from our 2005 cleft surgery trip to Henan, came to visit the hospital with her husband.  If you haven’t read Cui’s personal story, you can read it here.  Cui impacted all of our hearts in such profound ways, as her bravery in facing the world with unrepaired cleft for 19 years was so inspiring.  We were so humbled to help her have her lip and palate surgeries, and then cheered when she graduated from college through our education program.  We cried tears of happiness when we learned she was getting married to a wonderfully kind man, and then recently were overjoyed when she gave birth to her own baby son in February.  How wonderful that she and Robin could meet in person, as both of these young ladies deserve every great thing that life has to offer.

Cui and MaureenCui and her husband presented us with a scroll

Thank you again for all of the great wishes for our team.   We have heard this week from parents whose children were healed on prior LWB cleft trips, and that is always such a joy to get updates on former patients.  And of course, seeing CuiCui again today reminded us all that lives can be forever intertwined when we come together  for the good of the kids. Thank you for helping us make new ripples on the water this week.  We absolutely couldn’t do it without you!

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