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.
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. Read more.
Cleft trips are always emotionally and physically exhausting. The months of preparation, the long plane rides, the huge, overweight suitcases that are wrestled through the airports and begged through check-in without overweight fees, the physical aliments in a foreign country, and the long, hard hours in an unfamiliar hospital all become insignificant compared to the moment that the first child comes back from the operating room. Read more.
Ten surgeries were completed today, which brought the total number of children healed to 49. One baby had to be disqualified from surgery this morning due to infection, but we all agree that 49 lives changed is a wonderful accomplishment in just five days of surgery. Both the US medical team and the China medical team feel that the trip was a complete success, and they are already talking about when they can get together again in the future to help more children in need. Read more.
Today one of the volunteers said it is a shame that these trips don’t last two weeks, as everyone has truly hit their stride, and the entire China/American team is working seamlessly together to help the kids.
Thursday morning was very busy as many rural families came to the hospital to check in and lots of babies were being discharged. The OR day began at 8 a.m. with two local children going into surgery for palate repairs. Xian was Dr. Ness’ first patient today. She is a very beautiful girl with a very attentive dad. Dr. Ness said that she was so lovely that he wanted to do a lip revision as well as her palate so that she wouldn’t have any scar at all. Read more.
All of us at LWB sure are happy that Dr. John Ness came into this world a few decades ago. Before we tell you about the surgery day, we just want to thank this very special man, who has traveled with LWB on cleft trips multiple times to change the lives of so many children. We had an extra special surprise for him today, when we asked him to sit back on one of the hospital beds so the very grateful nannies could make a “baby pile” on his lap in honor of all he has done. Following the photo, the nannies all sang a very special happy birthday song in Chinese to him. Later that night he was presented with a dragon cake, and we hope this was a birthday he will never forget. Read more.
It took quite awhile for me to fall asleep on Sunday night, as I was thinking about what a huge responsibility our team feels for the children who have come to Kaifeng this week for their cleft repairs. Before I traveled, I of course knew that we would be putting babies to sleep in the OR for their surgeries, but it wasn’t until yesterday, when I met these incredible kids in person, that the full weight of wanting everything to go smoothly became the heaviest. I am so grateful to all of the donors and supporters for LWB who are making these surgeries possible. The nannies and foster moms have such obvious hopes for their children to be healed. You are making such a difference in their lives. Read more.
Our 2012 Cleft Exchange in quickly approaching. In less than one month, four doctors from the United States will travel to Kaifeng, Henan and perform up to 40 cleft lip and palate surgeries. At the same time they will be working with Chinese doctors and training them in the best methods of performing quality cleft surgeries. It is our hope that through this training, more children in China will have beautiful cleft repairs for years to come.
Our last cleft exchange took place in Fuzhou in the fall of 2010 where thirty children received life-changing surgeries. Most of the orphaned children who were a part of that trip have since been adopted by their forever families. Read more.
The last day of the Medical Exchange was a smooth day filled with laughter.
“Super Ambitious Day” was Mission Accomplished! It was a day of challenges, learning and fun.
The last days of a Cleft Mission are always the busiest! Today was a day filled with joy and laughter as many of the children who had surgery on the first day left to return to their hometowns and more children arrived to prepare for their surgeries tomorrow.