It sadly felt like we had finally left them behind.
Anhui Healing Home, the organization's small home-like medical facility that accepts infants in need of medical intensive care from orphanages throughout Anhui Province further to the industrial east. Her name was Willow. She had a cleft palate with no cleft lip that could easily be addressed. She also had a heart defect. After a couple of months she seemed to be gaining. Then in the early winter she contracted pneumonia. After a few weeks the staff thought she had beaten the illness but one day, still very frail, she died.
We offered to sponsor another Anhui child, a little guy with a whopper of a cleft much like Henry's. As a result he has just had a first-stage lip repair. And we remain hopeful that LWB can find enough sponsors to someday return to Pingliang in Gansu Province to establish one of its Believe In Me school programs within the orphanage there.
With Henry we're no longer in a medical holding pattern and suddenly have a series of major surgeries planned again. The first is scheduled for early June, just a few weeks after school gets out, and it will no doubt be a challenge. It is a rare procedure called an Abbe flap and involves the transplant of an entire section (skin, muscle, nerve) of his lower lip to form a new upper lip. Later this summer a pediatric orthodontist will begin to widen the roof of his mouth. Next summer he will likely have bone transplants to fill in the gaps in his maxilla. Then eventually he will need the distraction surgery that will move his maxilla forward to rest more directly over his lower jaw. TLC throughout.