LWB Community Blog

Day Four of the 2015 Cleft Medical Exchange


Today our team was able to discharge our first three patients. Dave and August left with their families, who were all overjoyed with the surgery results. Even though the kids who come to our trips are only with us for a few days, it is still always so hard to say goodbye.

CME2015AugustgoodbyeOur team member Susie saying goodbye to August

The deep love of the rural families has touched our hearts so much, and we are so thankful we could play a role in helping their children have a brighter future.

Dave-B-&-AGorgeous Dave before and after surgery

CME2015Davegoing homeDave reacts to the news of going home

We also said goodbye to little Mallory who will be returning to the New Hope unit in Zhengzhou until her upcoming adoption. We wish her such a beautiful life with her new family.

CME2015MallorygoinghomeMallory leaving the hospital

Buddies Zale and Xiomar were both doing well today following their palate surgeries. Xiomar isn’t a fan of having his photo taken, but he was glad to be able to eat some liquids again today.

CME2015ZalepostopZale following palate surgery

CME2015XiomarpostopXiomar cleared to eat again

Now that we have two operating rooms going, many more kids received surgeries today. Dr. Tolan began the day with Travis since he had waited yesterday as an alternate. He came out of surgery doing very well and rested comfortably the rest of the day.

CME2015TravisgoingtoORLWB volunteer Mary Feng carrying Travis to surgery, kangaroo style

CME2015TravisORLittle Travis in the OR

Dr. Tolan’s second case was to repair Isabella’s palate. She is one of the rural children who came to the hospital last week and was evaluated on Sunday. Her parents were very concerned that she was bleeding a bit post-op, but our team quickly assured her that everything was going as expected.

CME2015Isabella2Isabella prior to surgery

Dr. Tolan’s third case was Delia, the adorable little girl from an orphanage in Shandong. Our team has fallen in love with her sweet and sunny personality, and we all hope so much that she will soon be chosen for adoption as we know her file is available. Brave Delia actually went back to the OR with the biggest smile on her face, with lots of support and encouragement from our team.

CME2015DeliagoingtoORDelia going back for surgery

Her case was a complex one, of course, but thankfully she came out of surgery well. Her good friend Billy, in fact, told her, “mei nu” (beautiful girl) when he saw her return to the room. We told you Billy was an absolute sweetheart!

CME2015DeliapostopDelia right after her operation

By the end of the day, Delia felt well enough to sit up in bed and blow kisses to our team. What a lovely little girl!

CME2015DeliaeveningroundsDelia and Dr. Tolan

Dr. Tolan’s final case of the day was Andy, another of the rural children who came to our team yesterday. He got lots of love in the PACU following surgery from our nurses Mary and Dana.

CME2015AndypostopAndy in the PACU

Dr. Tollefson had a very busy schedule today as well. His first case was baby Keane, who had traveled all the way from far western China to see our team.

CME2015KeanggoingtoORBaby Keane and Dr. Clinch

CME2015KeanegoingtoORHeading down to the OR with Keane

CME2015KeaneORDr. Derechin and Dr. Tollefson in surgery with Keane

His surgery ended up being more complex than expected, but he was soon back into his mom’s arms and was resting comfortably the rest of the day.

CME2015KeanepostopLittle Keane and his lovely mom

Next up for Dr. Tollefson was little Samuel from the Tibetan plateau. Prior to surgery, Samuel was very happy listening to music and resting in bed. Because this family lives so remotely, and because Samuel has been unable to attend school due to his special need, the decision was made to repair both his lip and palate during one operation. Samuel was understandably very uncomfortable when he came out of the OR, and he struggled with breathing through his mouth as his nose was closed up with packing. Dr. Clinch came out of surgery to check him and to have a drip of pain meds started, which allowed him to finally rest.

CME2015Samuelpostop2Samuel post-op

CME2015SamuelpostopBeing closely monitored by volunteer Will

The third surgery for Dr. Tollefson was little Peter, the baby who had been running a fever when he arrived to the hospital from Beijing. He was a little fussy overnight but felt better by morning, and so the decision was made to do his operation.

CME2015PeterJinPeter and LWB volunteer Jin

While Peter was waiting on deck, he was kept entertained by listening to music on people’s cell phones. He was rocking back and forth and really grooving, although in this photo of him listening to a song he looks more like a power businessman closing a deal, doesn’t he?

CME2015Peterphone“Tell them to have the contract to me by tomorrow.”

Last up for the day was baby Abe. He is a happy, smiley little guy who loves the toys our team brought, and we are so happy to report that everything went smoothly for him! We should have some post-op photos tomorrow to share.

CME2015Abe2Abe is pure sunshine!

Anyone who has ever had a child in the hospital knows you have to get really creative to keep the kids happy and entertained while there. We have been so blessed on this trip to have two teens and their moms as part of our team. Both of these wonderful teenagers were adopted from China to the US when they were younger. For both of them, it is their first trip back to their birth country, and they are doing a phenomenal job helping out. Jin has an extra special knack connecting with the kids, as you can clearly see with Spencer and Trent.

CME2015SpencerJinHallway racing with Spencer

CME2015TrentJinJin with Trent and his tiny hair braid

David was adopted from China when he was 12, and he still speaks fluent Mandarin. He has been translating for us on the cleft trip as well as helping to keep the kids entertained while waiting.


He and Billy have really hit off, and today David explained the game of basketball to him.

CME2015BillyDavid2New friends David and Billy

Billy is getting very nervous about his surgery. He is super smart and sees the other kids leaving for the OR and coming back in pain, so he is understandably anxious about tomorrow.

CME2015Billy4Billy understands tomorrow is a big day

Dr. Tollefson and Dr. Tolan were able to consult together today about his operation, and of course we all understand that it will be a very difficult one as his type of facial cleft is very rare. We are so grateful that we have such amazing surgeons here in Kaifeng to help this wonderful little boy.

CME2015BillyEveningRoundsPlanning for tomorrow

Shepherd is still running a fever today, so please keep all those good thoughts heading his way. He remains on antibiotics, and we are all really hoping he can have surgery on Friday as his orphanage doesn’t have any local alternatives.

CME2015Shepherd3Baby Shepherd

Tomorrow’s surgery schedule is as follows:

Dr. Tollefson: Spencer, Madison Claire, Billy, and Trent
Dr. Tolan: Caleb, Liane, Billy, and Josh

You might remember Liane from last year’s trip. She is being raised by her grandparents in rural Henan where she spends her days with them in the fields, and they have returned with her to have her palate repaired.


She is an absolute love, and Dr. Tolan was able to get many smiles out of her on evening rounds.



Madison Claire also got fully checked in for her surgery tomorrow. She is a very calm little girl whose family has such a sad story. Her grandfather, whom she absolutely adores, lost his arm in an accident. But since the accident was ruled to be his fault, he is not allowed to receive any disability payments from the government. To support the family, Madison Claire’s parents had to move out of town to find work, so this little girl only gets to see them once every six months.

CME2015MadisonClaireGrandpaMadison Claire kissing her grandpa…over and over again!

This family is extremely impoverished, so our team members went out and got them some new clothing for their granddaughter. They are such a lovely family!


So many incredible kids for our team to meet and come to know. We are so grateful for your continued support of this important medical exchange, and we will be back tomorrow with more updates!

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