LWB Community Blog

What’s a Cleft Medical Exchange?

Just one more month until the 2015 Cleft Medical Exchange, which will take place from April 12-18 at the Kaifeng Children’s Hospital in Henan province.  If you are a new LWB supporter, you may wonder what a cleft exchange is. We are happy to provide more information so you can join in the excitement!

Cleft exchange group

An LWB Cleft Exchange is a week in which cleft specialists from both the US and China (surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses) come together to share knowledge about the latest developments and advances in the treatment of cleft lip and palate. Dozens of children receive the best medical care possible during this exciting partnership.

maureen surgery

A medical exchange trip differs from a traditional mission trip, as the focus is first on teaching quality medical techniques versus just the sheer number of surgeries performed. The goal of this education emphasis is to help even more children for many years to come.

Four wonderful American doctors have volunteered their time for this year’s trip:

Dr. Chris Tolan,


Dr. Kathy Clinch,

Dr. Neil Derechin,

Dr. Derechin

and Dr. Travis Tollefson.

Dr. Tollefson

Here is the entire medical team from our 2014 Cleft Medical Exchange!

Medical team

In addition, 13 other medical and logistical volunteers are taking part as well, to assist with everything from support in the operating room to comforting babies post-surgery.  We send our thanks to the following team members  for traveling all the way to China at their own expense to change the lives of some truly wonderful kids:  Mary Feng, Maureen Gealey, Sherri Cox, Andrea Scofield, Dana Donnohue, Sandi Glass, David Glass, Mary DelToro, Jone Lemos, Jin Jackson, Chris Ingoldsby, Kenzie Tolan, and Will Thompson.

Checking Instruments 1

An LWB Cleft Exchange is a huge project that requires a thousand different details, but knowing that so many children will receive the operations they need is worth it all.

Susie Wen

Right now, our team is making final preparations for the trip.  We have over 35 children identified for surgery, and all the supplies from sutures to medications to toys are being collected.  We hope that you will join us on our journey by following along on our blog and by considering a donation to support this wonderful week of healing.


Just look at the difference last year’s exchange made for Winston who is now enjoying life with a foster family.  Thanks for making these transformations possible!

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