LWB Community Blog

2018 Cleft Medical Exchange: Day Three

Tuesday was a truly great day in Lanzhou, with a whole lot of healing going on. Friendships are being made among the families and caregivers waiting for their children to have surgery, and the whole mood of the hospital was one of excitement.

Before we introduce you to some of today’s surgery patients, let’s check in on the children who had surgery yesterday. Remember sweet Harrison, who’s from an orphanage in central China? He was all smiles today during morning rounds despite having his palate closed yesterday. He is truly a ray of sunshine on the ward. Let’s all keep hoping that someday he will have a family of his very own.

All of the babies who had cleft lip surgery yesterday are healing beautifully following their operations. Look at these gorgeous repairs!




Camila, Ivan, and Nathan’s fathers were so overcome with gratitude about their children’s surgeries that they went out and bought bags and bags and BAGS of fruit for the team!  We’d never seen so many grapes, apples, and bananas in one place, and it really touched our hearts to receive this special and sincere thank you from the families.

Lian’s parents are also very happy with her surgery results. Now they feel she can grow up accepted in her community since being born with cleft still carries such a huge stigma in China.

Annie wouldn’t give us any smiles today, but we’re okay with that so those perfect little stitches can heal just right.

Today the hospital opened up a third operating room so that many more of the waiting children could have surgery. Despite having such a full and busy schedule, our team made sure every child had a positive experience. Even though the children are going through something scary, we do our very best to make sure they’re happy and calm throughout the whole procedure.

One-year-old Sion, whose grandmother brought him over 700 kilometers to see our team, had a unilateral cleft repair today. He was certainly covered in love by both the US and China team members.

Another of the lovely babies on our schedule today was four-month-old Kylee. She is a special treasure to her mom and dad as their first child tragically passed away.

Kylee’s father is a migrant worker from a poor farming family. He learned about our team from a friend whose child was helped by LWB, and they traveled a great distance hoping their daughter could be healed.

Around 1 in 3 babies born with cleft have a relative with the same condition, and Kylee shares this special need with her mom. Kylee’s mother was able to have her lip repaired as a child, but she was never able to have her palate closed. Her hope for Kylee is that she can not only grow up beautiful, but also be able to speak clearly since she cannot. Kylee’s mom told us she is still ashamed to go out in public even as an adult because of her appearance, and she desperately wants her daughter to have a better life experience than she’s had. She’s so very grateful to everyone who is bringing hope to her little girl.

Following Kylee’s operation today, her parents were all smiles, telling us how relieved and happy they are and proudly showing us her repair.

Geriant was also on the surgery schedule today. He’s a very active little boy who came for his palate repair. Geriant’s family is extremely poor, and his father is a migrant worker living over 1,000 kilometers away from home.

Geriant really loved the beanie babies our team had brought as gifts and had a lot of fun before surgery making the other babies laugh.

Geriant came to Lanzhou with his mom and grandmother, who tend a small farm in rural Gansu. Grandma told us she’s very hopeful this surgery will help her precious grandson have a wonderful, happy life.

Geriant’s mom and grandma tried very hard to hide their fears before he was taken back to the OR, but once he disappeared behind the OR doors they both began crying. The grandmother was inconsolable as tears poured from her eyes. When he was finally brought out of recovery, the relief in her entire body at seeing he was safe had everyone feeling emotional.

Aubrey is another beautiful baby who had surgery with our team today.

Aubrey’s family raise sheep and live about an hour outside of Lanzhou. When Aubrey was just over a month  old, she had pneumonia from aspiration. She was admitted to the hospital ICU, where her dad learned about LWB coming to Gansu. Her father said, “I believe she’s a lucky girl because having something as bad as pneumonia led us to this hospital and finding your team.”

Aubrey’s dad loves his baby girl so much and played with her nonstop as we spoke. The ICU costs from when she was hospitalized with pneumonia have put the family deeply into debt, so they are very thankful to the LWB sponsors for making this cleft surgery possible for their daughter.

We also want to introduce you to a handsome little boy named Wyatt.

Wyatt’s family is Tibetan, and they traveled such a long way to see our team. We asked them to come for intake today, but they were so concerned their child wouldn’t receive surgery that they showed up at the hospital many days ago.  Wyatt’s grandmother hasn’t let him out of her sight for a moment.

Wyatt’s grandfather and uncle also traveled to Lanzhou, and for the last three days they’ve been clutching their malas (Tibetan prayer beads). They said they have been rubbing the beads and praying continually that our team would accept Wyatt for surgery.

His grandfather has come to see our China director dozens of times in the hospital asking us to confirm Wyatt will be healed. Today, she smiled and said to him, “I’m telling you for the 100th time that your grandson WILL get his operation, but if you come ask me again, I might change my mind.” 🙂  Wyatt’s granddad went away laughing, so hopefully his heart is more at peace now that his son’s operation will indeed occur. (He’s scheduled for surgery with Dr. Tolan on Day 4).

We’ll share more stories tomorrow about some of the children on this life-changing medical exchange. Here are a few more images from our second surgery day we thought you’d enjoy seeing.

And finally for today, we want to send our DEEPEST gratitude to everyone who gave on #GivingTuesday for precious Mabel. This little girl’s family brought her to Lanzhou hoping for cleft surgery, but our doctors had to break the sad news that she has a large hole in her heart as well.

Because of your generosity, the heart surgery she needs was fully funded in hours. Plans are underway now to get her operation scheduled right away.

How wonderful is that?  YOU MADE IT POSSIBLE!

Until tomorrow, goodnight from Lanzhou!

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