Tuesday, November 21, 2006


One of the greatest things about foster care is hearing about the
little family interactions that begin to take place between the foster
children and the family.

This past month, our China Monitor sent me the cutest story about a little boy,
James, and his foster father. Apparently, the father has a habit of
whistling as he returns from work and reaches the bottom of the stairs
to the home. In response, James whistles and then runs to meet his

This sweet meeting each night of father and child is something that I
have always cherished with my children. Until I heard this story, it
was one of the many little things that I have forgotten that these
children miss out on. This little boy is no longer missing out this
special father/son connection!

Anne/LWB Foster Care Coordinator-Guangdong

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The last day group photo...new friendships made.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Baby Express

Two of the little babies that we have been helping received permission to be transfered to PHF in Beijing. One of these babies is a sweet heart baby named Long. He has a very serious heart defect and has had the first part of a two part heart surgery. The other baby is Shuang, a baby girl with a severe bilateral cleft. Shuang had her lip repaired this week during our cleft trip. Because Tim Baker and his crew had their hands full taking their 10 other cleft babies back to Beijing, they couldn't take two more babies with them on the train. What to do???

Well, how about Julie and Arlene stepping forward as ayis to carry the babies to Beijing and their new home? Yes, that is just what they agreed to do! We have the absolute best LWB volunteers! :-)

Just imagine loads of luggage, two tiny babies who had never seen these strange women, diapers, bottles, etc. Arlene and Julie did it (with Colm, Julie's husband, to help schlep the luggage)!!! They delivered their charges safely into the hands of their new ayis.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Final Day in Hefei

Our team actually got to “sleep in” today as we didn’t have to go to the hospital until 8:30 this morning since no surgeries were being done. Rounds were made, patients were discharged, and the “packing up of the boxes” began. Could it have only been one week since we arrived? It seems like a lifetime of memories were made during these days. We are so thankful to Jeff and Wynee for documenting the trip in photos as we will always be able to look back at them and remember the beautiful children whose lives were changed this week.

In the afternoon, our volunteers were invited to visit the Hefei SWI to see the children and their wonderful foster set up. Others decided to spend the afternoon shopping for last minute bargains. We all gathered together in the early evening for an official group photo, and then we headed to the closing banquet that was sponsored by Anhui Children’s. What a wonderful dinner we had, and what a wonderful evening to sit and reflect on people from so many different countries all coming together for children. Julie Flynn Coleman gave the speech on behalf of LWB, and we are including a part of it here as her words are oh so true:

“Thank you distinguished Directors for extending to us all this opportunity to work together for the health of the children. Xie Xie ni men.

As I look around this room tonight I see people united and happy with a job well done. Each and every one here has given 110 % in the name of the children - From the Honourable Directors who worked so diligently to make this week happen, to the medical and administrative staff both here in China to those who winged their way across the ocean giving of your gifts to weave this joy.

Each of us will return to our families with a piece of our heart holding memories of this amazing journey, a journey of mutual learning and cultural exchange as well as the knowledge that, as we held a baby close and watched the healing power of cooperation, we held a glorious moment in time …for with that tiny life we also held our future, for the children are the future.”

All of us at LWB would like to thank you for following along on our 3rd cleft trip to China. Thank you for your wonderful wishes, your support, and for your prayers for the children. We couldn’t do it without you!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Last Day of Surgeries

Have you wondered what exactly the team can do after the shift ends? Tired and quite weary, often it is hard to gain the energy to even go out to dinner. 2 nights ago Heidi, our Cleft mission director, joined her husband Alan, one of the anesthesiologists, and several members of the team to find a nice restaurant downtown. Heidi never really knocks off duty and so was on her cell phone back to the USA regarding another LWB matter as they meandered down the road.

She followed them into what she thought was the restaurant of choice. Not noticing that the men and women where now being separated into different rooms she continued her conversation with our Medical Director back home. Suddenly she commented “Oh Karen I have to go…they are trying to take my clothes off!” She had NOT noticed that she was in a massage room. The Doctors had heard how good the foot massage was in China and had booked ahead, the perfect way to end a 12-hour shift in the OR! I wonder what Karen thought of that abrupt end to the phone call!!!

Can you ever get used to such great days? All the rest of the kids on the schedule today were done and we can honestly say it was a wonderful, incredible week. One of our fabulous volunteers said today that she had realized that she had taken very few photos this week. She said that she had been “living in the moment” of it all so much, that she never stopped to take out her camera.

Arlene’s Lu’An foster children had their surgeries today, and it was a moment she won’t soon forget as she got to take one of the little girls back to the OR and comfort her while they put her to sleep. Arlene stayed through the surgery and then was there in recovery as little Lian woke up.

Our OR schedule was so filled today when a local Mom came in with her baby daughter of 4 months old. She had heard the team were here but thought she was too late. When we ushered her into the examination room she burst into tears. This Mom had done such an exceptional job at feeding her baby; she was a darling chubby baby with a unilateral cleft lip. Dr Cindy Molloy tenderly examined baby Ran Ran as we held our breathe hoping she would not be wheezy. We had already established she had fed at 10.15 a.m. so we could perform surgery at 12.15 if all was well. Amazingly that number 13 was her birth date, as it shined through with luck once more and she was deemed fit as a fiddle. Her young Mom just hugged her daughter close and with tears falling kept saying “Xie Xie Ayi” (thank you Aunty). Dr Molloy’s nurse Jean and the rest of us in the room held back our tears (well mostly held them back) as we brought her down to her bed. A lovie blanket and toy were quickly fetched as the team explained that very soon her beautiful daughter would be in surgery.

At 12.17 Matt Melloy arrived down to fetch her up to floor 13 and we followed. Mom held her baby close and sat as Dr Ness examined Ran and declared that it would be a fine surgery. The moment had come for her to be separated and she kissed her baby’s sweet head as tears fell. She wanted to carry her to theatre but alas those large steel doors could not be passed.

Gently Dr Ness squeezed her shoulder and made sure his words were translated to Mom, “She will be fine, we will take good care of her- don’t worry”. And so we left and offered her tea and lunch from the hospital trolley. Not much of a comfort but all we could do.

Those 2 hours passed slowly and then Ran emerged from the elevator “baby coming through”. The mom took her baby to her and sat and rocked her as tears again washed over her and those fortunate enough to witness the love between them. Later she was seen cradling her sweetheart and singing softly as she swayed back and forth on the hospital bed, nothing interrupting her pleasure and joy of motherhood. Those arms of nurture locked in an age-old embrace; together in that timeless moment. Silently too those that did witness left the room to cry in happiness.

And so the miracle of love continued in Hefei today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wonderful Wednesday

15 more surgeries took place again today in Hefei, and all of the kids did very well. We had one small baby have an allergic reaction to her meds, but thankfully the surgeon was right there when it happened and he quickly took care of the situation and now she is doing well.

So many people have come together to make this such a positive cleft mission and SO many need mentioning but alas there isn't room in the blog to do justice to them all. On the China side of organizing, our wonderful facilitator Zhang Ming has worked tirelessly on behalf of the children. He rarely gets to see and hold the children he has such a heart for, but today he got to hold baby Keren post surgery. He had helped so much last spring in getting her moved to a foster home, and so it was very special for him to hold her as she was waking up. She gave us a little anxiety as she is a real fighter with loud lungs, and so she caused her lip to bleed just a little, but all is well now and she is doing great. "Uncle Ming" was very happy to have this special moment with her.

The surgeons Dr Ness, Dr Tolan and Dr Buckmiller are so busy with their teams, but anytime we ask "Can you do this baby now??", the answer is always "we are here to serve the children". Our OR schedule may be a little more like a book of fiction as it is impossible to determine exactly how long an operation may take but they always say, "bring them up". I have had the privilege to stand in the room and watch them at work, patiently marking and repairing these beautiful children's lips ...children whose beauty already shines through but who now become more acceptable to society in general and hopefully will find a family to love them forever.

We had a really funny moment today (well, now it's funny although it wasn't just then) when the cleft team thought one of the children had gone missing. Jeff from Guiyang runs a foster home there, and he had brought his own kids along with him to Hefei to help transport the children having surgery. His teenage son Micah has been such a wonderful help as he is fluent in Mandarin. He had gone with one of our board members as a translator to help arrange for a medical exam for a little girl, and he took 5 year old Gabriel along. Gabriel was on the OR schedule for today, but Micah thought the surgeons would not get to him until much later in the day. He and Gabriel and Arlene were in another section of the hospital busily arranging for the little girl's tests at the same time that the medical team had gone down to bring Gabriel back for surgery. Imagine their panic when his bed was empty and he was nowhere to be found. The whole volunteer team was quickly scrambled to search for the missing patient and phone calls were made to staff members out shopping to see if perhaps they had taken him along. The panic continued to rise until Micah, Arlene, and Gabriel strolled happily back in, not realizing that the team was about ready to put the hospital in lockdown mode!

The post op ward was very quiet today as all the babies seem to be feeling
well and feeding just fine. CuiCui's friend YaoYao had her surgery and is
also recovering well. Her father and brother sit by her bed and attend to her needs. Silently she lies there and hopes for the future.

We received news today that our first patients arrived safely back home to their orphanages. We have started compiling before and after photos, and even though the after photos are taken immediately post surgery and will be SO much more beautiful in just a few weeks, you can already see what an amazing difference has been made.

We have wonderful news to report that a kind family yesterday read our blog and immediately emailed to say that they wanted to sponsor the rural baby's heart surgery. The young baby was very blue, so we are all SO THANKFUL that this child will be able to have surgery as soon as possible. This world is filled with such compassionate souls. I can only imagine the joy this family will feel when they get the news today that their child will get this second chance at life.

Today we also had a visit from Mr Xue from Anhui Provincial Civil Affairs with responsibility for Social Work. The enthusiasm and attention to detail they have shown the team has truly been outstanding. Everyday the team have shared wonderful stories of how working together with their Chinese friends in the OR, recovery and on the ward has been such fun and an exchange on both sides. We are even having Chinese language lessons! (one eminent anesthesiologist spent an hour repeating terms of endearment that he can whisper to his beloved wife. Don't you love it?)

As it approaches an 11-hour shift we await the last children of the day to come down to the ward from recovery. Where did those hours go?? Tomorrow will be another busy day. The last of the kids have arrived and thankfully all of the babies who came earlier in the week who were wheezing and not feeling well are now better after getting medications in the hospital. So out of all the babies on our schedule, only three will not have surgery this week. The little baby from Fujian has been checked into the hospital and will have her heart surgery next week, and then we will do her cleft operation in the future. Another little one from Hunan has been diagnosed with some thyroid issues and so we will take care of those before doing cleft surgery, and only one little baby was too sick with a fever to have an operation at the moment, but we will definitely make sure it is done as soon as he is well. All the rest will be HEALED by tomorrow night!

Wan an from China.