LWB Community


Intake Day

Today was Intake Day for our 2017 Cleft Medical Exchange. When our team arrived early in the morning, many families were already lined up hoping to be seen.

Unlike our past medical exchange trips to China where we pre-identified the children having surgery, this year ads were sent to villages, schools, and orphanages by Smile Cambodia. Today was the “open call” for anyone to come and be seen by our international team.

Our volunteers worked as quickly as possible to get all the children registered at the intake table, which was a huge task because of how many families were in line.

Baby Avery being really patient waiting her turn

After each child was registered and given a number, they headed to our vitals room where nurses Lori and Mary recorded their heights and weights. Some of the kids thought the foreigners were fascinating, while others were understandably more upset by the friendly and inquisitive strangers.


One difference we saw here in Cambodia (versus our past trips to China) is that children with a wide variety of medical issues lined up, hoping to receive help. We saw the most beautiful children with conditions such as giant nevi, hemangiomas, and lipomas, as well as parents who just needed reassurance that more minor conditions weren’t something serious to worry about. Every single child was evaluated and, when needed, referred for additional care.

She wins the day for staring down our team

Many adults came as well, hoping to receive surgeries for issues such as birthmarks and burns. Even though LWB’s focus this week is to heal children, the doctors saw everyone who came today, regardless of age. We truly have the most compassionate doctors traveling with us!

Today our team met little Molly, a girl from the village where we work in northern Cambodia who had suffered severe burns over much of her body.  Dr. Tollefson will be returning to Cambodia in January, and he is going to talk with some specialists to see what could be done for this beautiful child.

All through the day, our team did evaluations. The final step before being scheduled for surgery is meeting with the anesthesiologists. This is a critical part of the intake process as the doctors must ensure that all potential patients can successfully undergo anesthesia.

One of the babies who arrived to see our team was little David. His very young mom has obviously done an incredible job caring for her son with cleft as he has very chubby arms and cheeks and looked the very picture of health. There was no doubt that he would definitely make the required weight.

David willingly went into the final room with the doctors and wasn’t afraid of our team at all.


When Dr. Clinch put her stethoscope to David’s chest, however, she immediately heard a heart murmur. His oxygen levels were then taken, which were very low. Additional tests were ordered, and sadly the team had to give his mom the devastating news that her son has a complex heart defect (most likely ToF).

We are so thankful that David’s mom brought him to intake day. Otherwise, she might not have learned of her son’s serious condition before it could have proven too late for heart surgery. While we’re all saddened that little David was found to have heart disease, we’re grateful to the Smile Cambodia team who immediately made calls for him to be moved to another hospital with a cardiac department.

Tomorrow the doctors will do eight surgeries.  Here are a few more images from this long but productive day.

We’re so grateful to everyone for their thoughts and prayers for the children and our team.

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  • Pam says:

    You all are amazing! Such wonderful work you do for the children!

  • Patt Kelsey says:

    I have been moved deeply by this latest post and the photos!! There are no words for the work LWB, the SMILE team, and all who were part of the ‘open call’ are doing this week. (And always!) The pictures show the overwhelming response…and therefore the great need!! Breaks my heart to see and hear of those who came, young and old, with conditions other than cleft lip/palette with the hopes of also receiving help. It’s great that they were guided and talked to about how, and where they might find what they need. Prayers for all as the week progresses and the surgeries are performed!

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