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Surgery Mission – Day Three

Another wonderful day! Working in two ORs, the doctors were able to get into a smooth rhythm. Dr. Buckmiller and Dr. Duyka would perform one surgery and then move immediately into the next OR to do another one. There was no need to wait for clean-up or set-up. By lunch, they had already done four out of the seven surgeries.

The babies from yesterday look wonderful. Early this morning, the IVs were taken out and fluids were started. Fu Ran could not have been happier! The Buddha baby had quite an appetite. If he isn’t eating, he is fussy because it is one of his favorite activities. 🙂 Ran Ran was out in the hall walking around. Her stitches had already almost disappeared and she looked to have a perfect repair. The ayis are all lovingly taking care of them and these first babies will be able to go home tomorrow.


What struck everyone the most today was how happy each of the ayis was when the babies arrived from surgery to the floor. Yun was the first surgery of the day. When she arrived into her room following her surgery, her ayi started sobbing. We all wondered what was wrong. She was SO happy with Yun’s repaired lip and loved the way she looked, she just couldn’t stop crying. After that, each ayi had tears of joy as their baby was wheeled in from recovery. Yun, Yi Yi, Chang, Cheng, and Ya, all had their lips repaired – four bilaterals and two unilateral repairs. Their ayis were just like proud parents so happy to see their babies. The nurses commented also on how very good these babies were. This room was so much quieter than the night before. The Chinese nurses came up with a great way to prop up the babies to help then breathe better. They twisted up a quilt into a circle, creating almost a nest to put the babies in.

Ya, a little 2 ½ year old girl from our school program in Hubei, was born prematurely. Because of this, she only had one functioning lung, making the anesthesia riskier. We were so happy that she was able to have her lip repaired today. Before surgery this active little girl entertained everyone. What an absolutely incredible transformation for this little girl.

The biggest news of the day is that Yuan Yuan had her upper tumor removed. This sweet little girl has touched absolutely everyone. Today she spent time coloring with volunteers as she waited for her turn for surgery. When her hair was shaved away for surgery, we were all surprised by how very large her upper tumor was. This tumor extended from her eye to the middle of the top of her head – about 9 to 12 inches long and about 3 inches wide. Under the tumor was a thickening of the cranial bone. Dr. Bonnie Straka worked with Dr. Bao, the neurosurgeon. Dr. Straka marked the incision, Dr. Bao performed the surgery, and then Dr. Straka stitched the incision. Once Dr. Bao removed most of the tumor, he had to shave down the cranial bone. Her head looks so much better and is shaped much more normally. In addition, Dr. Straka said that about 60% of the nevus has also been removed. She still has the cheek tumor, but hopefully that can also soon be removed. Tomorrow we should get the pathology report to find out exactly what kind of tumor she has.

We also gave the clean bunk award today to the Shangrao Xinzhou ayis. These ayis are unbelievable. They are constantly cleaning, mopping, and sweeping their room. You can just smell how clean the Shangrao ayis’ room is when you walk in. This award is not easily given away because we have watched all of the ayis busily clean and mop their rooms so their babies can have the best environment possible.


The Shanghai expat group has continued to be so wonderful to all of us. They have helped to run errands, took a group out shopping for art auction items, brought in the most delicious lunches and snacks, translated, and played with the babies. We can’t thank them all enough for their hospitality.

Between the ayis, the volunteers from the US and the volunteers from Shanghai, the babies are not in their cribs except when they are napping. I love watching all of these babies cuddled, loved, and played with. I have thought often over the last few days how this simple surgery is transforming these lives so that every one of these children will soon have the chance to do all of these things in their very own adoptive families.

Karen Maunu
Medical Director

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