It has been 7 years since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. Its epicenter was a mere 16 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives, and those who survived lost nearly everything else.
On Day 4 after the quake, accompanied by Drs. Ale and Ian Mitchell, LEAP Founder Dr. Craig Hobar worked around the clock, amputating gangrenous limbs and repairing facial injuries of victims pulled from the rubble in Port-au-Prince.
LEAP then sent rotating surgical teams for 6 months, during which time we developed a close partnership with locally based Hopital Espoir and saw the extreme need for continued surgical care beyond our disaster relief efforts.
Sweet Cerys shouts for joy in Harare Children’s Hospital, where we not only offer surgical assistance but also education and training to healthcare providers based there. The joyful nature of the children in Zimbabwe is truly something to behold and inspires our teams to keep working hard, despite the long hours.
Our relationship with Franchesca began in 1998 when LEAP Founder and Medical Director Dr. Craig Hobar performed a bilateral cleft lip repair for her as a baby while on a surgical mission to the Dominican Republic.
By monitoring her progress and providing age-appropriate surgeries over the past 18 years, we are able to give her the best possible care as she grows and develops into a confident young woman.
On our recent September mission to the D.R., Dr. Hobar performed a cleft nasal revision and palate repair, which included a bone graft from her hip. This surgery gave Franchesca a more natural looking lip and nose and will allow for future dental implants.
We so cherish the opportunity to watch Franchesca grow up as part of our LEAP family and help her reach special milestones through continued surgical care.
A simple hope for a better life can bring about monumental change. Landmark recipient Misha arrived in the U.S. with only the clothes on his back. His government housing in Moldova has conditions so meager that they do not have running water or electricity. He was burned badly as an infant because his mother must cook meals over an open fire. To receive care from Dr. Hobar through LEAP and stay in a warm home to heal, with luxuries such as a bathtub and refrigerator, was beyond his comprehension.
Children are drawn to LEAP Founder Dr. Craig Hobar in really amazing ways. They seem to be both calmed yet in awe in his presence. Perhaps it’s the deep love he has for all people–especially children needing some form of healing. He’ll tell you he’s inspired by the perfect love of Christ–a lovely reminder for this Christmas season.
Cyndi Banish’s MBA with expertise in Project Management in Health Care has been invaluable to LEAP through her weekly service in our warehouse. She has done an amazing job helping us get more organized with improved processes. Her natural ability to manage our medical supplies and equipment at every stage has created efficiencies that enable our surgical mission teams to do their best work on the ground. Her efforts may not be seen by many, but they are felt by all.
As a longstanding patient of Dr. Hobar’s and all-around impressive young man, Brian Buckenham selected LEAP as his Eagle Scout project at the age of 14. Through a garage sale and fundraising efforts, he raised $3,300 to buy and assemble post-op totes for all of LEAP’s mission patients for one year. Brian–a senior at St. Mark’s in Dallas and co-captain of the Robotics team–has continued this work far beyond that initial project, providing comfort and care to more than 1,000 for the past 2.5 years. He also helps us on warehouse workdays and at events, and he traveled with LEAP on a surgical mission to Belize in 2014.
“While I was in Belize, I saw a baby brought into the operating room still holding a yellow smiley-face ball that I included in one of the post-op care totes,” Brian reflects. “Then seeing the baby come out of surgery with a brand-new smile made a big impact on me.”
Do you know the origins of our Landmark Program? When we first started doing mission trips, we soon learned there were some special children who required care beyond what was safe to perform in their home countries. Despite our desire to help, without a funding source, that would not have been impossible. When he heard about the need, Doug Lamon generously committed to provide the necessary financial resources to heal these children. Thanks to him, we’ve brought more than 40 children to the U.S. for extensive surgical repair(s). Doug’s family has become highly involved in the organization as well.
Jane Lamon has been involved with LEAP as both a medical mission volunteer and a host mom for the Landmark Program. She most recently opened her beautiful home to our beloved Li Ying for her final surgery after 10 years of being treated by Dr. Hobar. Regarding being a host mom, “It’s about being simple,” says Jane, “and understanding that we’re here to help one another.”
Matt is the youngest of three generations of Lamons who have been actively involved with LEAP. Matt first went on a mission trip with his mom, Jane, to Laos when he was a teenager. He was so inspired by the humanitarian aspect of medicine that he decided to go to medical school.
Matt is now married and finishing up medical school with the goal of practicing emergency medicine. His wife, Abby, also volunteers with LEAP and will graduate from PA school soon. “It’s cool seeing LEAP’s involvement in three generations of my family—hopefully more to come,” says Matt. “I think it goes to show anyone can get involved with this kind of work if you’ve got a willing heart.”
Dallas-based pediatric anesthetist Phuong Luong is a rockstar team lead in the mission field, where she trains and mentors new medical volunteers to help grow our future leaders. She also keeps track of our supplies in the warehouse; she inventories, packs, and secures donations of much-needed equipment and medical supplies. She is kind, hardworking, and cool under pressure–and she uses those skills to bless our patients in countless ways.
Over the past four years, Phuong has participated on 18 medical mission trips to the following locations:
Haiti – 9 trips
India – 3 trips
DR – 1 trip
Zimbabwe – 3 trips
Belize – 2 trips
Total distance traveled – 146,688 miles
Thank you, Phuong, for your globe-trotting giving heart!