LWB Community Blog

Surgeries Start Monday!

We will be introducing you to the first new smile next Monday.  There are five children scheduled for surgery that day; I’d love to give you a peek at three of them.  Make sure to keep these photos handy so that next week you can marvel at the change.  I always do! 


Seven-month-old Jiang has a bilateral cleft lip and palate.  That means it splits on both sides of his



Lan has really bright eyes and looks like she is really interested in the world around her.  She has a unilateral cleft lip, meaning it only affects one side.  She is also seven months old.


Ping has a bilateral cleft lip and palate. She is just a few weeks younger than the other two. Jiang, Lan, and Ping will all be coming from Jiangxi Province. 


I have had so many people ask me recently why we see so much incidence of cleft lip and/or palate in China.  Below you will find a mini-lesson. 


Cleft lip forms early in fetal development. It is thought to be caused from genetic factors or maternal environmental exposures during pregnancy.  Cleft lip often occurs with cleft palate. These conditions are the most common birth defects of the head and neck.  It occurs most often in Asians and Native Americans.  Africans have the lowest incidence of cleft palate/cleft lip.  (Information taken from Web MD and Wikipedia.)


If you take the naturally higher incidence in Chinese children and then add factors like family pressure and the inability for many to afford health care, you end up with many of these children being placed into orphanages. 


We have learned over the years that a repaired lip is often the only thing that stands in the way of a child having a chance at a family of their own.  This is a big reason why LWB works so hard to do as many cleft surgeries as possible. In addition, kids with an unrepaired lip and/or palate struggle to get enough calories because eating is so difficult.  Providing them with the lip and/or palate repair helps them to be able to gain weight and thrive. 


In 2007, we provided over 125 cleft surgeries to children in China. About 25% of those were done at last year’s cleft trip. LWB is committed to changing lives and smiles, one child at a time, and we are so grateful to all of our supporters who are helping to make this next trip possible.


Wendy Petersen R.N.
Heartbridge Coordinator
Medical Trips Coordinator


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