Day Three of the 2015 Cleft Medical Exchange
Our team’s day began with morning rounds to check on the children who had surgery yesterday and to make sure the kids on deck were all still doing well.
Mallory was doing really well today, and even had a bit of a smile for our team after her palate surgery yesterday, as long as she was safely in the arms of her nanny.
She’s been able to drink some milk today and was continued on pain medication. Such a beautiful little girl, and we have learned that she was recently chosen for adoption, which is wonderful news!
Baby August was doing really well today, eating regularly and being adored by his family members. We learned that he is the only boy in three generations on his mom’s side, so he might be a wee bit doted upon. His repair looks wonderful.
Little Dave was also feeling really comfortable on morning rounds. His mom is always holding him and loving on him completely. His repair is also very beautiful.
Eight year old Kelly was feeling so much better today. She was walking up and down the hallway with her mom. She loves the stuffed puppy and little notebook our team gave her. Her family told us she is in the second grade and is an excellent student!
First up on the OR schedule today was little Ozzy. He is one of the babies we were really concerned about making weight, but his caregivers had done a wonderful job in the last month bulking him up. He did great after his operation, coming out of anesthesia very quickly. He was resting comfortably following his surgery.
Xiomar was the second little one on the surgery schedule today. He had a palate repair done, and he was calm and content just as long as he was being held. He is such a happy and cute little boy, and we will post photos of him tomorrow.
Josiah was then up for his lip repair. He has a very young and sweet nanny who is so attentive to his needs. She began crying when he was taken to surgery because she was worried about him and the pain he would be in after the surgery.
One of our volunteers on the trip, Sandi Glass, is the mom of a child with cleft, so Sandi was able to talk with his nanny and let her know everyone will be supporting them this week. Josiah is adored by many team members who look forward to holding him and taking him for walks in the hall. He was very brave when he was taken back to surgery, although everyone was commenting on how very tiny he is. He is one year old but the size of a four month old.
On this trip we have two nurses working in the post-anesthesia recovery room as well as two wonderful pediatric anethesiologists. All were critical to Josiah’s recovery today as he had a very rough time coming out of the operation. It took a long time to get him stabilized, and Dr. Clinch came out of the OR to work on him. These are of course always very tense times during a trip, and we are so grateful to our wonderful team for all of their hard work today for the kids.
We are very happy to report that Josiah is now doing very well. Doesn’t he look amazing?
Last on the surgery schedule today was little Zale. He is a quiet and sweet little boy who played in his room until his surgery. He did great post-op and was resting comfortably at the end of the day.
And then there was poor little Travis. He was the alternate today, which meant he was kept NPO (no food or drink) until about 2:30 today. He is the happiest little guy, and only got upset when he saw some of his roommates eating without him, so our team made a big effort to keep him entertained so he wouldn’t think about his grumbly tummy. He is definitely on the schedule for tomorrow!
The kids from Gansu got lots of attention today on the floor. Minna is such a little peanut, so she got held a lot and was very content.
Unfortunately, little Shepherd is now raspy and running a fever. We began nebulizer treatments and antibiotics and have moved him later on the schedule to Friday to hopefully give him more time to recover.
Spencer is one of the students at our new Believe in Me school program in Qingyang, Gansu. He loves playing with his new car and teasing people. He is so adorable with an infectious laugh, and he has earned that favorite adjective of nannies, who describe him as “naughty” (which usually means smart and mischievous). Spencer absolutely loved the bubbles our team brought, and he greeted everyone today with a loud “Hello!” He is very talkative and friendly, and he loved seeing all the photos of himself that our team was taking.
Little Peter is still running a fever, and we are all hoping he will qualify for surgery since he has been unable to be healed at his local hospital due to continual congestion. He was happy to play in his bed all day with whatever he could get his hands on. A spoon and a cardboard tube kept him busy for hours. Please be thinking of this beautiful little guy with the hope he can have surgery tomorrow.
We had another new arrival today from far western China. Keane is a beautiful baby boy whose parents were not able to provide him with surgery. His mom and aunt traveled to Kaifeng and are such kind and lovely people. His father is a minister, and we are very grateful we can help this sweet family.
We had two additional rural families come to our team asking for help. Andy and Isabella both need palate surgery which their parents cannot afford, so we will be adding them to our schedule as well. Isabella is absolutely adorable, isn’t she? And Andy is a charmer as well!
Billy and Delia had a much better day today on the ward. He is so very sweet to his “mei mei” (little sister), and the two played so well together all day.
Billy has become very comfortable with our team, and he realized that down the hallway we have a room where the toys are kept. He worked up the courage to go down the hall to pick some toys for himself, and of course our team couldn’t refuse him no matter how many times he came back. And of course once Delia realized what was going on, she had to go down the hallway to get her own toy as well.
Samuel had a very good day today as well. His family is very proud and has said many times they cannot accept any additional help, but we have been told they are extremely poor and really struggle to provide for their four young children.
Farming is very difficult on the Tibetan plateau at the very high elevation where this family lives. Goats cannot survive in their village because the altitude is just too high, and so the children are living on barley flour and tea. Samuel’s iron is actually lower than we want for surgery, and he is very small for a child his age. Because LWB always tries to help the “whole child” whenever possible, we want to make a commitment to this family to help them – not as charity, but simply because we love kids and want all four children to have the best health possible. The mom has a brand new baby, so her health is so important as well.
After many discussions and polite refusals last night, the father has accepted our offer to help the family buy several yaks. If you don’t want to learn more about yaks, you can skip to the next paragraph, but we learned so much last night which we thought you might find interesting as well.
Yaks are of course the most important animal to the Tibetan people, and have been for over 2,000 years. They receive given names by their owners and help families in so many ways. Yak milk is high in fat, and is made into butter and cheese and mixed with tea for a thick drink which is high in calories. Yak hair is used for weaving clothing and blankets, and yak dung is used to heat a family’s home all winter long since there are very few trees on the plateau to provide wood. Basically, having a small herd of yaks can change everything for a family there, providing food, clothing, and warmth during the long winters. A family of six people really needs to have five yaks in order to get enough milk and butter for the entire year. Yak prices vary according to whether it is a male or female, according to the age of the animal, and according to altitude and availability. Prices are a bit lower in the spring season, which is thankfully where we are now. In their region, three-year old female yaks cost around 2,500 rmb each (around $400).
If anyone would like to help Samuel and his family with this gift which will impact them for years and years to come, you can make a donation on our website and note “Yak for Samuel” in the notes area. We are always so grateful for your immense kindness for those in real need. And how many times can you know you bought a yak for someone? That’s a pretty interesting gift!
(We now return to the regularly scheduled cleft blog following our yak education — haha!)
Our team said goodbye to fifteen-year-old Ray today, and everyone was so sad to see him go. Upon further examination, Ray’s surgery would be too complex to do on this trip. He really needs a bone graft, as well as more than one surgical procedure, and so our medical director Cindy called and spoke to the surgeons at Fudan University in Shanghai. It just so happened that one of their top cleft surgeons was in Zhengzhou to do surgeries that very day (only about an hour from Kaifeng), and so Ray and the elderly man who volunteered his time to help made the trip to Zhengzhou to see him.
The surgeon believes he can help Ray in Shanghai, so we are making the commitment to see him through any future treatment. Since he told our team he could not accept any charity to pay off his family’s debt, we have decided to hire him as one of the helpers for our upcoming Life Skills camp this summer in Beijing. He is such a wonderful example of a person who is working so hard to better themselves, and he is so honest and kind. Our director told him that we will keep track of the hours he gives to LWB, and we will pay him a fair price to reduce his debt. He was very happy to join our Life Skills team, so we will get to see him again in August!
Dr. Travis Tollefson arrived in Kaifeng late this evening, so our surgery schedule will pick up greatly tomorrow with doctors in two ORs now. On the surgery for tomorrow is little Abe, who likes to put EVERYTHING in his mouth, so those donated “no-nos” are sure going to come in handy.
Also on the schedule will be Andy, Delia, Isabella, Travis, Peter (if his fever breaks), Samuel and baby Keane.
Thanks for all of your good wishes for the team, and we look forward to bringing you more news tomorrow!