LWB Community Blog

Making Our List: The 2014 Cleft Exchange

Much like Santa and his elves, our Cleft Exchange Team is busy working behind the scenes making their lists and checking them twice. Preparing for a week-long trip in which dozens of children will receive life-changing surgeries to repair cleft lip or palate is no small undertaking.

Dr. Ness babypile

There are lists of children to receive surgery. There are lists of team members, nurses, doctors, coordinators and other volunteers traveling from around the world to meet in Kaifeng. There are lists of supplies needed to have the best possible outcome for each and every child: sutures, specialized bandages, and cleft bottles. Missing from our list are several items that we would like to ask for your help in supplying.


Pain Relief: In many overseas locations, it is not standard practice to administer pain relief to children after cleft surgery. Our team has found that children who receive acetaminophen after surgery not only experience less pain, but they are able to eat sooner, sleep better, and be more cooperative with the medical staff. In short, they have a better post-op recovery. To ensure we have adequate amounts of medication which can be difficult to obtain in China, our team packs their own supply. We would appreciate donations of liquid acetaminophen (Tylenol brand or other) or monetary donations towards the purchase of this over-the-counter medication. A $10 donation will help our team provide pain relief to a child after surgery.

Day 4 Isaac

Feeding:  After cleft lip or palate surgery, it is difficult for children to begin feeding. Pain relief helps, but even with good pain relief feeding is still difficult, and our team knows that it is important to make every calorie count. We strive to provide calorie and nutrient-packed fluids after surgery. For infants, high quality formula is key. For older children, Pedialyte or electrolyte maintenance powders help maintain hydration and critical nutrients. Typically in China, the family of the patient provides all food during a hospital stay. Acting as the family of the children served during the Cleft Exchange, our team needs to bring formula and pedialyte. We would appreciate donations of powder packs of Pedialyte (powder packs weigh less in a suitcase than liquid) or monetary donations towards the purchase or pedialyte and formula. A $20 donation will help our team provide good hydration and nutrition for a child after surgery.


No-Nos (Arm Restraints): After surgery for either cleft lip or palate, it is important to keep little hands away from the mouth. Children wake up in arm restraints, commonly called no-nos, and need to be kept in them for several weeks while surgical sites heal.  Arm restraints are surprisingly expensive and can be reused.  We eagerly accept donations of gently used arm restraints.

Day 4 Going Home

Bibs and Hats:  While certainly not medical necessities, in past years our team has carried hand-made bibs and hats to give to the children who receive surgery.  In some parts of China, children born with facial deformities are treated differently due to cultural stereotypes.  Children with cleft lip or palate tend to be big droolers and need a hefty supply of bibs.  A colorful bib or snuggly hat can make a child feel special, especially when recovering from surgery.  We are only too happy to send children back to their orphanage or foster home with a new hat and supply of bibs.  We are happy to accept donations of hats and bibs. We are also pleased to be partnering with Sprout Tops who is offering two great offers: buy one hat and donate one to LWB, or buy one hat for LWB at 50% off.  Click on over to their site and check out their cute designs.


We are grateful of all donations and good wishes for a successful Cleft Exchange. If you have donations you would like to send, please contact Nancy Williams at nancy.williams@lwbmail.com for current needs and shipping instructions. We need to receive all donations by April 1, 2014. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please visit our Cleft Exchange Donation page.

We look forward to partnering with you to fulfill our wishlist for the 2014 Cleft Exchange!

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