Day One of the 2015 Cleft Medical Exchange
Our team arrived safely in Kaifeng, Henan province over the weekend to begin our 2015 Cleft Medical Exchange, and the medical staff began evaluating the kids on Sunday afternoon. So many beautiful children have already captured our hearts!
Just like on the first day of every cleft trip, things were a wee bit hectic as families and caregivers crowded in the hallway hoping to get the assurance that their children would be on the schedule. Babies were weighed, and heart checks and lab work were done.
Everyone had a role to play today – from taking photographs to noting who had arrived and when, to checking skin for any suspicious rashes (since chicken pox season is here), to evaluating the size of each child’s airway for safe intubation.
Thankfully, most of the babies and children were in good spirits despite the crowded exam room.
We were so grateful that nearly all of the babies whose weight we were worried about came in at over ten pounds (See last week’s blog, “The Importance of Ten“). That is something to celebrate!
Samuel and his father arrived safely from their long journey from the Tibetan plateau. Our team said that little Samuel was such a kind and polite little boy during the whole exam process.
We were so happy to see Liane’s family again. You might remember little Liane from last year’s trip. She is being raised by her grandparents, who are rural farmers. We repaired Liane’s cleft lip last year, and she has come back to our team to have her palate repaired this year. She is so adored by her doting grandparents.
Liane’s grandfather actually played an enormous role in one of our new patients this year. Baby August is a handsome six-month-old baby boy from a rural part of the province. When he was born, his family was devastated to learn that he had cleft lip and palate as they are living in extreme poverty and the father has been unable to find stable work. The family felt helpless and were full of grief in knowing they couldn’t provide surgery for their son, and they had begun discussing whether he would be better off living in an orphanage. Then an amazing thing happened. Liane’s grandfather learned about little August, and he reached out to the family and encouraged them to talk with LWB. August’s father got on the phone with LWB’s Outreach Director, Susie Chen, but he was so overwrought with emotion that he could not even speak aloud. He had to write to Susie instead, and explain their family’s difficult situation. Susie immediately called and told them, “We will help! Please know our team will gladly provide him with surgery.” Where the family had been full of sadness, they now had reason to hope for a brighter future for their son.
The entire afternoon sped quickly by, and despite the language barrier there were lots of smiles and laughter from being around so many fun and adorable children.
The day was very sobering at times as well, however, as our team members saw nannies and the rural parents peeking through the window to see if their child would be included in the week’s schedule. Everyone is so anxious for their child to be healed.
Ella looking a little unsure about all the fuss
A few days ago we asked you to please be thinking of both Peter and Travis, as they are both older kids who have been unable to have their surgeries in the past due to continual chest congestion. They arrived to Kaifeng with fevers and raspy breathing, so they have been started on IV antibiotics in the hospital to get ready for hopeful surgery. They need every good thought sent their way.
First up on the surgery schedule tomorrow will be baby August, followed by little Mallory. She is from the New Hope unit in Zhengzhou, and she will be having palate surgery done.
We will also be operating on beautiful eight-year-old Kelly whose parents from rural Henan brought her in for an evaluation; she will be having a lip revision.
As surgeries get underway tomorrow, we will be bringing you much more news.
Thank you to everyone who has helped support the 2015 Cleft Medical Exchange. We are beyond grateful!