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Unite for Smiles: Cleft Repairs

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Supporters of our Unite for Smiles campaign from early summer raised $25,000 for our Unity Initiative! So far, these funds have enabled 16 children in China to have cleft lip or palate surgeries at Gansu Provincial Hospital. These children are from rural families unable to afford the cost of cleft repair surgery on their own. Another eight children are scheduled to have their cleft lips and palates repaired later this fall.

All 16 children who had repairs are precious and have incredible stories of resilience and hope — and we wish we could share each and every story with you! But in the interest of space, today we’re featuring 3 boys whose lives were changed this summer thanks to our Unite for Smiles campaign.

Baby boy in a yellow hat with cleft lip

Unite for Smiles: Diego’s Cleft Lip Repair

Eight-month-old Diego (above) had cleft lip surgery in August. His parents and grandparents are farmers with little or no education, so they work as laborers to support the family. Diego’s young father found a job as a cook at a noodle restaurant, but his income is not enough to provide the medical care that his son needs.

Following his cleft lip surgery, Diego was a happy and quiet baby in the hospital.

Baby boy in green vest with repaired cleft lip

His parents carefully cleaned his wound and fed him with a spoon. They were very grateful for LWB’s help with Diego’s lip repair, and he’s already on the schedule for palate surgery at the end of the year.

Baby boy with repaired cleft lip at home with his parents in China

Unite for Smiles: Quinlan’s Cleft Lip Repair

Quinlan, also eight months old, had his cleft lip repair in August.

Baby in yellow with cleft lip

Quinlan is the treasured baby of a large family. He has three doting older sisters, and they all live together with both sets of grandparents.

Chinese family with twin girls and a bay outside their rural home

The family has a small plot of farmland where they grow enough food for their family but not enough to sell. Quinlan’s father is a delivery driver in the city and the main provider for the family.

In the hospital, Quinlan slept well and was happily eating formula, rice congee and rice cereal after surgery.

Baby in hospital following cleft lip repair

This sweet boy is a good little eater and spoiled from all the affection he gets from his big sisters!

Baby Chad lives with both sets of grandparents and parents. Although they are farmers with a small plot of land, the environment makes it difficult to grow crops successfully. Chad’s father helps provide for the family through temporary labor jobs at construction sites.

When the family learned from a neonatal screening that their baby boy would have cleft palate, they were very worried and unsure of how they could afford his necessary surgery. The hospital told them about LWB’s Unity Initiative, and they were grateful when Chad was accepted into our program.

Two parents holding a small baby on their lap

Chad’s family applied for our assistance with his cleft palate surgery in May. However, he needed to meet the minimum weight requirement first, something that can be a challenge for cleft-affected children since the opening in the roof of their mouth makes it difficult to breathe, swallow, and suck while feeding. Thankfully, Chad’s parents and grandparents worked to get lots of nourishment into their precious boy. Look at his lovely double-chin in these photos!

Laughing baby being held by his smiling grandfather in hospital

Now nine months old, Chad was able to have his cleft palate surgery. When our coordinator visited Chad in the hospital he found a very happy, smiley baby despite the discomfort that can come from recovering from palate surgery. He clearly likes to play with his grandfather (seen in the above photo), but only his beloved grandmother could feed him or put him to bed.

Baby in white pajamas being held by smiling grandma

Chad’s palate surgery went well and he was discharged one week later.

What a joy to see these children’s lives changed because of the generosity of our Unite for Smiles sponsors! Eight additional children are all lined up for surgery this fall – covered by the Unite for Smiles campaign. We’re so grateful that our supporters believe so strongly in our work helping children from impoverished families in China obtain life-changing medical care. Truly, every child counts!

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