Saturday, October 28, 2006


Our 2006 cleft mission is underway! Please visit our new blog at and share in the happy stories of children receiving the gift of a new smile.

Friday, April 21, 2006

We just received updated photos of 4 of the orphans our team operated on in Luoyang last September. We are incredibly pleased with how marvelous the children look 6 months post surgery. We know that at least one of these boys has found his forever family and hopefully will be coming home to the USA later this year. This is our dream for all the beautiful children who have met. We are very excited to report that many of the same team from Luoyang will be returning to China with Love Without Boundaries for another cleft trip in October. For this trip, we are bring 3 talented and experienced surgeons to operate on orphans from orphanages throughout China. We will be updating this site as plans unfold. Please check back to this blog and follow with us as we send our fourth surgical team to China.

Friday, October 14, 2005

It is mid-October and we have completed most of the details that needed to be handled when you sponsor a cleft trip overseas. We have talked to several of our volunteers and some have shared that 3 weeks later, they are still processing all that they have seen and felt. You cannot go to China and not somehow be forever changed. The images of the children, the orphanage, the families, the teamwork, the laughter, and the tears….they are still fresh in our minds and hearts.

One hundred six. That is the final number of children who were able to receive a cleft surgery on this trip to Luoyang. It has never been about the number of children who we were able to help for each child is precious and deserving in their own right, deserving of a brighter future. But we cannot help but be amazed by the number of children who have touched our lives. And for the first time for our foundation, we helped children with their dental needs. Between the two dentists, 69 children were evaluated by the dentists and had appropriate dental treatment. One hundred six and sixty nine seem like such small numbers when you think about China. But to us, these numbers mean dozens and dozens of children’s names and faces who touched our hearts. We will not forget.

We are deeply grateful to many people who made this trip possible. First of all we want to thank Director Pei of Luoyang Social Welfare Institute in Henan, China. He has done wonders for the children under his watchful care. Thank you for letting us come to your orphanage and help the children. We also want to thank Henan Civil Affairs for their assistance in bringing cleft children in Henan to our attention. We knew as soon as we saw their photos that they are truly spectacular children. Thank you.

We at Love Without Boundaries also want to thank our China Representative, Karen Mai, for her outstanding job she did as a facilitator, representative, and translator. Karen put in countless hours on this surgical trip and made numerous phone calls and trips to Luoyang all in the name of helping children. She is the only one who was in Luoyang for the entire 2 week mission. We are eternally grateful for her expertise, we are inspired by her dedication, and we are touched by her loving-kindness. Thank you Karen.

We know that a trip like this would not have been possible if it were not for the sponsors of the children and the generous donors of supplies. Your generosity has overwhelmed us. Love Without Boundaries has the best supporters. Thank you!

And of course we have a huge and thankful heart for our dedicated volunteers. Most of these volunteers had never been to China or participated in a surgical trip. It was an honor to bring you to China to show you the people and children that we at Love Without Boundaries have come to love. We are proud of every single one of you and we know that each of you gave 150%. Thank you!

Dr. Lisa Buckmiller - surgeon – AR
Dr. Mark Ray - surgeon – AR
Dr Kirt Simmons - dentist/orthodontist – AR
Dr. Lisa David- surgeon-NC
Dr. Louis Argenta-surgeon- NC
Dr. Claire Sanger- surgeon- NC
Dr. Chad Pfohl-oral surgeon- TN
Dr. Glen Weidenbacher - pediatrician – MN
Dr. Alan Reitz - anesthesiologist – MN
Dr. Walter Maurer - anesthesiologist – OH
Dr. Patti Kymer – anesthesiologist – AR
Dr. Jacob Smith – ENT Resident - AR
Chales Pohl - anesthetist – AR
Pamela Maurer - anesthetist – OH
Daisy Dailey - OR nurse – AR
Shelly Kremer-leBlanc – OR nurse – MN
Karla Boehmke - surgical tech – MN
Martha Huschka – surgical tech – MN
DeeAnn Nord - PACU RN – MN
Frances Knight - PACU RN – AR
Teresa Weidenbacher - RN – MN
Carol Just - RN – OK
Kathy Thompson - RN – MN
Ida Vessel – RN – MN
Donna Stier – RN – MN
Kathy Holm – RN – MN
Kerry Dixon – RN – MN
Maureen Brogan – RN – CA
Todd Taylor - EMT – CA
Kelly Lundberg - speech pathologist – WA
Amy Eldridge –LWB Admin. – OK
Karen Maunu - team coordinator – MN
Angela Taylor – volunteer – CA
Johnny Just - volunteer – OK
Gail Pohl - volunteer – AR
Laura Massenat - volunteer – OK
Lorrel Whiting - volunteer – WA
Betsy Hughs - volunteer – OR
Andrea Hainsworth - volunteer – WA
Michele Freeman - volunteer – MN
Heidi Reitz- volunteer-MN
Charlie Koch – volunteer – MN
Kathi Hodapp – volunteer – NV
Heather Wright – volunteer – CA
Teri Waite – volunteer – NV
Jerry Wang – volunteer – TX
Connie Wood - anesthetist – MN
Joseph Argenta – medical student – NC
Mary Kay Boell - OR nurse – MN
Sue Pierzynowski - OR nurse – MN
Joyce Haggerty - OR nurse – MN
Nancy McDermott – PACU – MN
Joanne Caldwell – PACU – MN
Cindy Mato - RN – WA
Wendy Seto - RN – NJ
Margaret Klaehn - RN - OH
Elizabeth Coulter – RN – WA
Dianne Lindsey – RN – AL
Brian Lindsey – RN - AL
Angela Carswell – LWB Admin. – NC
LeeAnn Mill – team coordinator – CO
Alyssa Shaughnessy - volunteer – MO
Nancy Brown - volunteer – MO
Pamela Brandsma - volunteer – IL
Jackie Day - volunteer – OK
Wanda Slater - volunteer – OK
Judith Needham - volunteer – PA
Cathy Mashinter - volunteer – Canada
Ashley Sandiford - volunteer – Canada
Mariel Childes – volunteer – SC
Kristen Childes – volunteer – SC
James Argenta – volunteer – NC
Michele Mosner – volunteer – NJ
Karen Mai – LWB China Rep &translator

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Our final day........

Our morning was started off as most mornings had, with discharging patients. It was a day filled with mixed emotions for our team members. Extreme happiness to see so many children smiling and feeling so much better before they left, and yet tears for all of us to see them go.

We all wondered, how many times you can fall in love with a child? We saw it happen so many times this week. There were just so many wonderful children we met. We discharged 16 children today and all of them went home with their families or with their caretakers. The teenage girl who had been burned was so incredibly warm and kind to her nurses. A true friendship had been formed and they have all vowed to stay in touch. We translated a small note she had wrote to them, telling them how much she loved them and how thankful she was.

Our bubbly and adorable five year old girl left today with her family. Her hair had been put up in brightly colored pigtails and she was grinning from ear to ear today. It is hard to believe that only two days ago she had her palate repaired and she already has a smile on her face.

Our tiniest patients also were released. Our teenage girls on our team have been so taken with these young babies and held and rocked them until the last minute. They just couldn't stop smiling whenever they were holding them. We know these children felt the love from these girls.

One single mother was so gratful for her four year old son's palate repair, that her tears never stopped flowing this morning. She must have thanked all of our team members a hundred times. Even our younger children were waving and grinning as they left the orphanage. One by one we saw them all leave, onto their new lives.

After the last child was released, we quickly finished the task of tearing down the ward. Within just a few hours, it was complete. As the remaining team members walked from the orphanage, we all left with very full hearts. We realized how exhausting this week had been, but how INCREDIBLY rewarding it was.
In the afternoon, our entire team spent the day touring the beautiful city of Louyang. We all needed this time to relax and process all that we had seen and experienced this week. We visited the Longmen Grotto Caves along a beautiful river and saw a beautiful old temple and all did some shopping. We realized how important this time was for our team to reconnect as a group before we leave tomorrow.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

We appreciate your patience in waiting for Team 2’s blog reports. We had so many computer problems in China, but we can now update everyone on the remaining days of our trip.

Today, (Thursday) is our last day of surgeries and we have a light schedule. All of our children are lip patients and we have four tiny babies from the Louyang orphanage. These four little ones have stolen the hearts of many of our team members. We are continually hearing, “I want this one” and “No, that is my baby”. These children sure are loved by all of us.

Our second burn patient, a beautiful teenage girl, has also found a special place in our hearts. She has encountered such tragedy in her life, yet her spirit is still so strong and her smile warms your heart when you meet her. She is making fast friends with all of us and it will be hard to see her leave tomorrow. We all wish we could do so much more and follow so many of these children and help enrich their lives.

As our surgical staff and PACU nurses finished the last surgeries, there was great satisfaction among us all. Between both Team 1 and Team 2, we have changed the lives of over 100 children. How amazing is that! Our medical staff left the orphanage for some much needed down time. They have all worked so incredibly hard this week and have given so much to all of the children they have met.

There were many, many tears today, as we discharged our patients from yesterday’s surgeries. The majority of our patients were rural families. We have several single fathers who had found abandoned boys who were cleft affected. One father found a small boy in a knee deep field of grass. Another father found an older disabled boy wandering the streets and has taken him home. These amazing men have taken these children in and loved them like their own sons. The stories they have shared about their love for these children has touched us all. The long journeys they have made to bring their children so they can receive surgery shows what commitment they have. They are so caring and nurturing to these children. Truly, truly incredible men!!

Our “essentials” team quickly went into action to begin to break our surgical ward down. Supplies had to be boxed, medical equipment was put into bags for team members to return this to the US, and the ward was cleaned and prepared for future teams who may use the unit. We were amazed at how quickly this process went.

We received a wonderful treat from the Director of the orphanage tonight. We all enjoyed a wonderful Chinese dinner and then were brought back to the orphanage, where a huge stage had been set up in from of the orphanage. We were entertained for several hours with cultural dances and singing. The children’s choir from the orphanage performed, along with several special needs children. A beautiful swan dance was performed by a young man with only one leg……it was amazing. The young children made us all smile with their animal sound songs and dance. It was a wonderful way to end a long week of surgeries.

We have one more day in Louyang and then the team will be returning home. We know it will be hard to say good bye to so many wonderful people and children we have met.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Day 4 for Luoying team 2. We all are feeling the exhaustion factor and we have had some really hard cases this past 24 hours. Many children come in frightened, of course, and we have had a few real tigers today. Poor babies, walking into a strange building and giving over their very lives to the hands of strangers who look, talk, smell and act differently than anyone they have ever seen in their little lives. They are so vulnerable.

Of course, then there are the exceptions to that with the children who make friends everywhere they go. Our little Due from Xinjiang is such an example. We all had such a hard time today saying goodbye to her. She has won all of our hearts. She made her rounds to say goodbye to everyone and gave many hugs and kisses along the way. We all wish we could bring her home.
It was goodbye day for Cui also, and everyone on staff made the effort to come out to hug her and say goodbye. She is now a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile and a chance for a future. This one child is worth it all. She will do something wonderful. You just know that when you are in her presence. She has something great to accomplish in her lifetime. We are so lucky to have been such a small part of her future.

Our orphanage kids are really warming up to the staff and making friends along the way. One little boy from the older kids floor has taken over the recovery room and has the nurses in stitches all the time. Today Nancy gave him her surgical hat and stethoscope and he was definitely one happy camper. The look on his face said "HEY, I AM IN CHARGE HERE!!!" We were all cracking up and rolling on the floor. This is what is making memories for us all. These little moments of intimate contact with another world that opens its doors for the good of the children.

Tomorrow is our last day of surgery. We have been incredibly busy so we are looking forward to slowing down, but we have also been so intensely involved in this venture that we know it will leave a huge hole in our hearts to break our unit down. We know it cannot go on forever, but in many ways we wish it were not the end. We all talk about beginnings rather than endings. That is the gift that this mission has given to us all.

Team Two is once again having internet difficulties. Thank you for understanding that this is beyond their control. They had another successful day of surgeries and we are all looking forward to hearing the stories of the last two days.

Until they are back online, please enjoy some of the photos from Team One. 110 children have been healed. One team member who just returned, told me this wonderful story. She said that the 16 year old boy with unrepaired cleft lip had very successful surgery. That first night, he asked the night nurse to tell him which of the babies had looked like him before surgery. When she pointed out a small child, he sat next to that baby's bed with his hand on the little one for an hour or so .

We are all still processing all of the emotions and stories we experienced while in China. There was daily laughter and daily tears, daily problems to solve and daily moments where we celebrated the beauty of these children.

We hope that the next installment will arrive tomorrow! Until then, enjoy the photos. Most are of the children, but I couldn't resist adding one of the teeth of Henan (all extracted from our dentist....ouch!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Day Three for team two…..where to start? The best place would be at the beginning of our day.
As our team enters the orphanage, we are always greeted at the gate by several families hoping to receive medical care for their child. For these families, seeing an American medical team gives them a glimmer of hope for their son or daughter.

As the team quickly heads up to the surgical floor, we are stopped by a local mother holding her four year old boy. She rushes to us to show us her beautiful son, Qian. We recognize her as she had come the day before hoping for a palate surgery for him. We had asked her to return today to be evaluated, as our surgery slots are quickly filling up and we can only accept a few more children. Her eyes immediately well up with tears and she begins to sob uncontrollably. The boy, who is worried for his mother, now begins to cry also. We assured her we will try and fit her child into our schedule after he is evaluated. But her emotions took over and it was difficult to calm her. As her crying escalates, the screening room quickly fills up with other patients who are needing to have blood work and screening for their surgeries. You could feel the intensity in the room, as we begin to sort out the children. And so our day has begins…..

The most difficult part of our job is choosing what children receive surgery. Every child we see is deserving. Every single one. We review every child and try and fit the child into our criteria. Our second child today was so tiny, so we weigh the baby…….only 9 pounds. We know this child has to be 10 pounds. We quickly say we had better check the scales, maybe they are wrong. Maybe they are a little off. We know we only need one more pound and the baby might qualify. We weigh the baby again…..still 9 pounds. We tell the father who has brought him, the baby is too small, he doesn’t weigh enough. He quickly puts on the child’s coat and then another coat and places the child back on the scale, with a hopeful grin. We apologize and tell him we can not give his child surgery. He quietly takes his child and leaves the room, with tears rolling down his cheeks. He graciously smiles and walks away. The pain we all shared with this father was intense. As our own tears began to flow, we all felt we wish we could do more. If only we could do one more.

And so we continue on. We meet every family and hear their story. We look into the eyes of every child……those beautiful dark eyes. We weigh, and measure and listen and talk. And then, another child is selected for surgery. What a moment this is!! We share the excitement and overwhelming joy with every family who is chosen. These are our happiest moments. Every family is so thankful and kind. We know the surgery their child will receive will change their life forever.

As our morning continues, the surgical area is bustling with activity. Our recovery area if filled with children and their families who will be discharged today.

Children who will soon leave and begin a new step in their life. In the same room, we have 10 children who received surgery the day before and are being comforted by their parents and caregivers. And standing at the doorway are eager eyes of the children who wait for today’s surgeries. Ten new children. The nurses and "essentials" (as we now call our non medical people) quickly go to their assigned area. Our wonderful night shift is ready to leave, as a new group is coming on to help. Our doctors begin making rounds and evaluating the patients. Our surgical team and PACU nurses quickly prepare for the days upcoming surgeries.

A few special team members start out their day by shopping for a new outfit for Cui Cui to wear home tomorrow when she is discharged? All our loving moms wanted to see her dressed in something new and wonderful to start her new life.

We stand back and look at this process and are in awe. In only two days, a total group of strangers has come together from all over the United States, giving of their time and money to help these children. This week has shown us all what the power of love has and what miracles love can accomplish.

Team 2 9/20/05

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day three for team 2 has brought many wonderful surprises. Our team is well oiled today and working like clockwork. Drs. Argenta, David and Sanger have done work today that has made much magic. Today was surgery day for our little girl from Xinjiang who has a facial deformity which has misshapen her beautiful little face and caused an ear deformity that is quite severe. She is absolutely beautiful and has the personality that would melt huge icebergs! Dr. Argenta did a side cleft repair on her mouth which none of us had ever seen. Her cleft was to the side of her jaw rather than the top and it had caused a lot of pulling and misshaping of her face. She came out of surgery with a smile on her face and a perfect relaxed lip and cheek for the first time in her life. We gave her a mirror when she came into the recovery room and she just glowed. Even though she was in some big pain she was one happy little girl!! We all had to leave the room and shed tears to see that kind of pure happiness.

Next up on the miracle list was Dr. David’s surgery on the severe burn survivor. This young man was orphaned when a fireworks factory sadly exploded and killed his entire family as well as burning him over a large part of his body. The surgery that he is receiving is to close his eye sockets to prevent further damage to his eyes. His scarring is very severe and we all wish there was more that we could do for him. Dr. David and Argenta will make a cast to carry back to the US to make a mask for him to wear that will hopefully lessen the scarring over a period of time. We are all praying that it will help. He is a quiet little boy who has already been through so very much in his short life.

The children are sailing through surgery today. We are much better organized today and our nurses are watching the children in the ward so closely. They are helping the kids drink as much as possible as the more hydrated a child is, the less pain they have. The kids are literally bounding up by the next morning. Even the doctors are impressed.

Our greatest story today is about Cui Cui. Cui Cui is a young girl 19 years old whose peasant father brought to the orphanage seeking a repair for his daughter who he obviously adores. She has been the dearest young woman and she has touched all of our hearts. We cannot wait to see how beautiful she is when she is done with surgery. She had a very severe bi-lateral cleft which I am sure has caused her much pain and teasing. In spite of her cleft she just shines with goodness and kindness and we have all fallen head over heels in love with her. Last night we found that Cui Cui is sitting soon for her college board exams. She will be graduating this year and is a top student in her class. Her father is so proud of her and has devoted his life to his three children who he says will all graduate from college to break the circle of poverty. He is a humble and inspirational man who has brought most of us to tears in admiration of his spirit.

As a group, all of team two has bonded to make this girl’s dreams come true and have decided to sponsor Cui Cui’s education and her future. We have agreed to start a fund so that next year when she starts school she will have all the funding she needs to achieve her dream of a degree in science and engineering. She is brilliant. I am so proud of this team and their spirit. Cui Cui has brought a spirit to our team that we could never have found without her. Her father fell to his knees thanking us for this honor. We fell to our knees thanking him for the honor of being allowed to participate in his dream.

Team 2 – 9/19/05