LWB Community Blog

2018 Cleft Medical Exchange: Day Two

Day Two of our Cleft Medical Exchange in Lanzhou is now complete. Since it was our first full day of surgeries in an unfamiliar hospital, things were quite hectic at times. We’re happy to report, however, that the Chinese and American teams have definitely found their rhythm and are working side-by-side to provide compassionate care to each of our little patients.

Dr. Chris Tolan completed four surgeries today, and first up in his OR was six-month-old Ivan, who traveled over 500 kilometers to see our team. Ivan’s family are farmers, but recently his dad had to move far from home to find work. Ivan’s mom was understandably very worried about her baby boy having surgery, and she held him tightly before he was taken back to the OR.

After his surgery, she was so relieved when Ivan was brought back out to the ward and kept staring intently at his new appearance. Many of our volunteers who have adopted children with cleft have shared that even though you know your child needs to have his or her lip repaired, it is a very bittersweet moment when you realize you won’t ever again see the wide grin you had come to love in your child.

Ivan’s family have already asked us when we will come back so their little boy can have his palate repaired, too. Good thing we signed a multi-year medical exchange contract with Gansu Provincial Hospital!

Next up for Dr. Tolan was four-year-old Daniella, whose lip repaired two years ago by LWB. The nuns who care for her told us that she is extremely active and has a strong personality. Daniella takes some time to warm up to strangers, but once she feels comfortable she talks nonstop. The nuns also said that Daniella is wonderful with the babies who live at the temple. They continue to hope she will grow up healthy, and their dream is for her to attend college someday.

Before Daniella was taken back to the OR, they assured her they would be waiting right there for her return.

Once Daniella was brought out of the OR, she never left the arms of her caregivers. It warms our hearts to know that she is so dearly loved.

Next, adorable Lian was ready for her lip repair surgery.  Lian’s family also came a very long way (over 300 kilometers) from a town near the border of Shaanxi province. Lian is their first child and the light of their lives. They were so happy to learn that LWB would be sending a team to China and applied right away for surgery.  We thought this was such a sweet photo of Lian getting one last kiss from mom before heading back to the OR.

Dr. Tolan did a beautiful lip repair, and Lian was sleeping peacefully when our team left the hospital today.

Dr. Tolan’s final case of the day was one-year-old Annie. She looked a bit nervous this morning as the doctors made pre-surgery rounds.

Annie was actually born at this hospital, and her parents learned from the doctors here that an international team would be coming. Annie was sick three times while waiting for this cleft exchange, and her family kept telling us how very lucky they feel to finally be here. She certainly was in excellent hands throughout the entire operation.

Annie’s repair looks excellent, and she too was sleeping soundly during evening rounds.

Dr. Travis Tollefson, from UC-Davis, also performed four surgeries today. His first patient was baby Camila, who has what is known as a microform cleft. While these clefts might not look as obvious as others, there can still be issues with the function of the underlying muscles which are critical to speech development.

Camila’s father brought her over 400 kilometers to see our team. Her mom has spina bifida and wasn’t able to make the long journey, so we can only imagine how worried she has been waiting at home for news. Thankfully, Camila did beautifully during her surgery, and she was wide awake and in good spirits shortly afterwards.

Next up for Dr. Tollefson was five-year-old Harrison, who is as cute as cute can be. Harrison is from an orphanage in central China and has struggled due to all the loss in his life. He came with a wonderfully patient nanny and has been incredibly brave so far. He did his best not to cry when he had to get his pre-surgery IV and was thankfully back to smiling soon after.

Harrison underwent palate surgery for the large opening in the roof of his mouth. Understandably, he didn’t feel well afterwards, so we aren’t going to share post-op photos just yet. Harrison is from an orphanage that unfortunately doesn’t do international adoptions, so his only chance at finding a family is to be chosen domestically.  We all hope that with this operation, his speech can start to develop more normally so he will have the best chance possible at someday finding a permanent home.

Dr. Tollefson then did a lip repair for five-year-old Damian, whose family made the very long trip from near the border of Sichuan province. They learned about LWB’s team from the local government as part of its poverty alleviation program. Damian LOVES to draw and is really talented, as you can see from the picture he drew before surgery.  We definitely have an artist in the making!

Damian’s surgery went great, and he was resting comfortably in bed in the afternoon.

The final case of the day was five-month-old Nathan, whose family is so lovely and talkative. They have a farm about four hours away from Lanzhou, and they kept saying how fortunate they felt that their little boy had this chance to receive surgery. They had him dressed all in red for good luck.

We’ll share some post-op photos of Nathan tomorrow as he wasn’t feeling very happy when he returned to the ward.

Now that the Chinese and American teams are working so well together, tomorrow is going to be a really busy day with fifteen surgeries on the schedule.

Here are a few of the beautiful children we will introduce to you tomorrow. We’re so grateful for all the wonderful wishes being sent for their healing.

And finally, we just want to say again that YOU make this all possible.  And now we’re going to do a shameless plug for LWB as it’s #GivingTuesday around the world.

We know almost every charity out there is asking people to give funds (which we of course LOVE), but today we’re also asking if you will give a “Share.”  Can you please take a moment to share one of our posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so that even more people can see all the good happening for children in need?

The more people who learn about this life-changing work today….the more children we can help in the future!

All donations received on #GivingTuesday will go towards arranging heart surgery for the little girl we introduced you to yesterday, 18-month-old Mabel. Mabel’s grandparents brought her a very long way with the hope of having her cleft lip repaired, but then our doctors diagnosed a large heart defect. Our team in Lanzhou is making arrangements for Mabel to receive the cardiac surgery she needs, and gifts given today will allow her a chance at a healthy life.

If you want to be a part of Mabel’s story of hope, you can make a #GivingTuesday gift here.

Until tomorrow, we send our warmest thoughts from Lanzhou.  How wonderful to keep sharing the message that EVERY child counts.

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  • Patt says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share the stories and photos of today’s surgeries! It definitely helps personalize the life changing work going on. Everyone of them are precious.. And the Cleft teams are quite amazing!