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LWB’s 2019 Cleft Exchange – Day Five

Today was the last full day of surgeries for our team in Lanzhou, and the hospital ward was brimming with children all recovering from their cleft operations this week.

Handsome Peyton

It was time to say goodbye to some of the wonderful kids who had their surgeries at the start of the trip, such as cute little Jade.  We will always remember his wonderful chubby cheeks that gave him a terrific looking repair. We hope his 5-year-old brother and 3-year-old sister will recognize him when he gets home!

Bye Baby Jade

Finley also got the green light to head home. His wide bilateral cleft made for a more complex repair, so as his family packed up they were given instructions to leave all the precious stitches alone for at least two more weeks. We’ll be anxious to see an updated photo of this adorable little boy once all the swelling has gone down.

Looking great, Finley!

Jordan was feeling happy during rounds this morning. While we all enjoy watching her grandma care for her so lovingly, we know they are ready to go home. She has two older siblings who are missing their little sister, and Jordan’s mom most certainly wants to see her baby daughter in person so she can gaze at that sweet new smile.

Jovial Jordan – or Joyful, Jolly, Jocund?  (we totally cheated and looked that last one up)

Rowan’s family is overjoyed at their son’s gorgeous repair.  They are from a mountain village and raise sheep, beans, and potatoes. Before Rowan’s birth, his dad had migrated to far-away Guangzhou to find work as a welder. After Rowan was born with cleft, however, he moved back to the village. He said that while the grandparents don’t necessarily need him at home to work the small farm, his heart wants to be home for the sake of his children.   

Rowan is such an easy-going baby and doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort at all following his surgery yesterday. Mom has been smiling ear to ear to see her son’s handsome new lip.

Rakish Rowan?  Okay…we’ll stop

Blake’s extended family are all still here supporting him while they wait for final discharge papers. Blake is definitely grandpa’s little buddy, and his grandfather has been walking the halls with Blake in his arms to keep him entertained. With so many people who adore him, plus that handsome new lip, Blake certainly has a bright future ahead of him.

It was also great to see Rylan looking so much stronger today on morning rounds.

As soon as our team arrived, she wanted to be up in our arms, so we took turns giving her lots of attention.

Rylan and Anna Gong Lu

Our director in China will continue to follow up on Rylan’s possible hip dysplasia, and we are all hoping her adoption file will soon be prepared.

Today we want to introduce you to another baby girl who came this week from orphanage care. Beautiful Marley is from the Qingyang orphanage in Gansu, and traveled almost six hours to have surgery with our team. LWB provided cleft bottles and other training to this orphanage in the past regarding the care of children born with this medical need, so we were thrilled to see little Marley arrive looking so healthy and fit for surgery.

Sleeping Beauty Marley

When we first started our cleft trips to China in 2004, our hope for every orphaned child who came for surgery was of course to someday find a family through adoption.  For almost a decade on those trips, that almost always meant through international adoption, as it was still rare for children with cleft to be chosen by local families within China. What an incredible change has happened over the last several years, however, as now the majority of orphaned children with cleft are able to find homes through domestic adoption.

That is the plan for five-month-old Marley, whose orphanage is hopeful they can place her for adoption with a local family following her lip repair.  Dr. Buckmiller gave Marley a beautiful new lip, so we will all be hoping a domestic family will soon choose her to be their daughter.

Of course our team all took turns giving Marley lots of cuddles and love in the hospital. She has been given the nickname of “Squishy” as she’s such a little marshmallow to hold.  She also loves when people gently sing to her.

Marley and team member Nancy Williams

Our team was very grateful that ten-month-old Rory’s high white blood count finally came down to normal levels, so Dr. Buckmiller was able to repair his wide bilateral cleft.

Adorable Riley

As we mentioned earlier on the blog, Rory is the fifth child in this farming family and has siblings who are 16, 14, 12, and 10.  Do you think he gets more than a wee bit of attention as the darling baby in the family?  The correct answer is yes, yes, and oh my goodness YES.

Rory and his devoted daddy

Rory did beautifully during the operation and was back up and wanting to play in record time.

We’d also like to introduce you to Taylor, another baby who had surgery with Dr. Buckmiller. This nine-month-old is the second child of the family and traveled several hours with his grandparents in order to receive his lip operation.

Hello baby Taylor!

Taylor’s parents were unable to come to Lanzhou as they had to stay home to tend their vegetable crop.  Taylor is a really sweet little boy who loves to smile and suck his fingers, although the no-nos he had put on his arms to protect his repair are definitely going to put a stop to that for a few days.  Here’s his very last photo with cleft before heading back to the OR.

And here is Taylor now, after his operation.

He was running a slight fever after surgery, but our team assured his nervous grandpa that there wasn’t anything to worry about.

Late in the day, we had an unexpected surprise when a family arrived to the hospital hoping the LWB team could provide surgery for their little boy.  Even though it was the last day of surgeries, Dr. Buckmiller said she definitely wanted to stay late to do his case. If they would have arrived just fifteen minutes later, surgery would not have been possible, but the team worked quickly to make sure all his intake and pre-op checks were completed. So SURPRISE! Meet baby Casey – with the most amazing hair that just naturally stands up that way.

Yep, hands down, the week’s best hair

Way to slide into home plate at the last minute, Casey!

“Wait….what in the world just happened to me?”

Tomorrow will sadly be our last day to spend with the children, doing final post-op rounds and saying goodbye to families being discharged to head back home.  We’ll share a few more photos then. Thanks again for all your wonderful thoughts for the children and our team. We can definitely feel all the great vibes being sent our way.  So on behalf of little Faye, who decided that the hospital floor needed some tidying up today….we bid you a fond goodnight!

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