LWB Community Blog

2018 Cleft Medical Exchange: Day One

Our 2018 LWB Cleft Exchange is now underway in Lanzhou, China. We’re excited to be partnering with the Gansu Provincial Hospital this week to help over 50 orphaned and rural children receive cleft lip and palate surgeries.

Sunday began with the official opening ceremony, and we’re grateful to everyone at the hospital for the warm welcome they extended to our team.

Following the official ceremony, our team met and screened the first patients on our list. Since so many of the families are traveling long distances to the hospital, from often very rural areas, we assigned an arrival date to each child for the intake process. Many of the families were so anxious for their children to receive surgery that they showed up very early to wait in line.

The first day of any cleft trip is always a bit chaotic, but we all felt that today’s intake process was one of the smoothest in years. We’re grateful for all the beanie babies and colorful bibs donated by the LWB community, as they helped break the ice with our tiny patients.

Not everyone was impressed with our peace offerings, however. We have a whole host of photos of our team getting some very intense stare downs. Here’s just a few of the “Don’t come any closer” looks we got from the patients today!

And this little boy wins, hands down. : )

We also got a very cautious welcome from little Daniella. You might remember her story from our 2016 cleft trip in Kaifeng.

When she was found as an infant, Daniella was taken to live at a seaside temple as her town didn’t have a government orphanage. Many temples have long traditions of caring for abandoned children, and the one Daniella was taken to primarily cares for children born with medical needs. Many of the nuns at the temple were in fact orphaned themselves as babies.

Daniella on our 2016 cleft trip

The nuns contacted one of our directors in China this year to say they were waiting for our cleft team to return with the hope we would repair Daniella’s palate. Let’s just say that our team was a whole lot happier to see Daniella again than the other way around. Can’t you just see the wheels in her head turning about what being examined by our doctors ultimately means?

She definitely knew that meeting our team meant something big was on the horizon. We promise you’re in good hands, Daniella!

Before any child can undergo surgery with our team, they have to go through a series of medical checks to make sure they are healthy enough for the operation. There are so many beautiful babies who have come to see us this week, such as little Nathan below. He sailed through his pre-op tests and was put onto the surgery schedule for tomorrow.

It is always very difficult to tell a family who has come to see our team that their beloved child can’t receive surgery. We had to break that hard news today to the grandparents of a darling 18-month-old girl.

During her intake exam, it was discovered that she has a heart defect which will need to be repaired before she is able to have her lip surgery done. After her grandfather was told the devastating news, he stayed at the hospital the entire day hoping something could be done for her. We have gathered all of their contact information, and through our Unity Initiative for rural families, we will do everything we can to make sure she gets the cardiac care she needs.

As a reminder, we always give the children having surgery Western names for privacy purposes. Since this year’s reporting leader is from Wales, you will see a lot of beautiful Welsh names being used this week, such as Cairon (seen below). And yes, many of us will be looking on Google for the proper pronunciations!

We’ll be matching children to sponsors all week as the updated surgery schedule gets decided each day. We just can’t thank you enough for helping to make this life-changing medical exchange possible.

Visit our blog tomorrow to read about our first full-day of surgeries. Little Ivan (seen below) will be one of the adorable kids on the schedule. We can’t wait to see his photos after the surgeons do his repair.

Babies Annie and Lian (seen below) will also be having their cleft lip surgeries in the morning.

We sure do appreciate all the great thoughts and wishes being sent for the children and our team this week. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

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