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The 2016 Cleft Medical Exchange: Final Moments

Saturday morning our team headed to the hospital to make our final rounds on the children and to say goodbye to the wonderful Chinese team we had worked with all week. Real friendships are formed in both the OR and on the ward, and it was hard to say those final farewells, not knowing when, if ever, we would meet in person again.

The children who had surgery earlier in the week continue to recover well.  The little boys from the Kaifeng PT Center (Brad, Greg, Levi, and Ray) were ready to get their discharge paperwork. We want to give a special thanks to all of the wonderful people who sent bibs, no-nos and little blankets for us to share with the children and nannies. Greg’s nanny was keeping him quite content by turning one of the “lovey” blankets into a hat.  We think red is his color!

Greg’s new “hat”

IMG_0364Baby Ray continues to recover beautifully

We also said goodbye to sweet Melinda and her family. She had stayed a few extra days in the hospital due to her post-op bleeding, but she now feels great and was ready to head home. Our team sent her off with a pretty cool pair of shades, which we think you’ll agree she totally rocks.

Omar has also healed enough to be discharged back with the wonderful nannies from New Hope. He had such a complex bilateral cleft, and his repair is looking awesome.

LWB volunteer Andrea Scofield gets one last cuddle with Omar

The children who had surgery yesterday were already feeling better. Kids are just so resilient, aren’t they? Virginia has thankfully decided that maybe we aren’t as terrible as she originally thought, so she let our photographer snap a few photos of her this morning with her devoted dad.

IMG_0943Virginia and her dad

Beautiful Tessa

Sierra looks amazing

Christopher and Michael also got the green light to go home today. Christopher said his revision was still sore but bearable. We are so thankful we got to meet this exceptional young man, and we wish him every good thing in the future. Maybe someday we will live in a world where outward appearance doesn’t matter, but until that time, we are thankful to everyone who supported this trip so we can make the lives of those born with cleft more hopeful.

IMG_0657 Christopher

Michael and his proud grandma

We are so happy to report that little Leora was already up this morning, ready to play. She and her parents share a very deep bond, and we just know with their support she is going to continue to greet the world with her wonderful smile. Her mom told us that Leora has started to get very particular about choosing her own outfit each morning and deciding her own hairstyle (we think anyone with a daughter knows that stage!) We hope that her new nose will help that confidence and determination continue to shine brightly.

Even though the cleft trip has come to a close, LWB’s work with children of course never stops. We have been helping more impoverished children in the far western parts of the Tibetan plateau, and one of the projects we do each year is to purchase wool from the local sheep farmers to turn into traditional Tibetan robes and warm mattresses for primary school children there.  As you know, it gets extremely cold in this mountainous region, and the local school teachers are always so happy to know their little students can stay warm through the winter months.

In order to help as many children as we can there this year, we will soon be holding an auction of some traditional Tibetan items that were made by some of the students’ parents. The items were sent to our medical team in Kaifeng to bring back to the states for the auction, and LWB’s Kate Finco and surgeon Chris Tolan were happy to help model them. Aren’t these Tibetan dress robes just stunning?  We will keep you posted about when the auction will begin.

And so very reluctantly, we say goodbye to Kaifeng and all the wonderful children and families we were honored to meet this week. We know some of the team will want to share their thoughts with you when they return, but for now we simply say THANK YOU.

Thank you for making this journey possible.

Thank you for lifting up these beautiful children.

Thank you for standing beside us to help spread the message that Every Child Counts.

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