Category Archives: Landmark Program

Landmark Program: Wilkin

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It was in March 2000, the year of LEAP’s 10th anniversary, when a local surgeon asked Dr. Craig Hobar if he would take a look at a patient who had been in the hospital for three weeks. The story of Wilkin alarmed even surgeons accustomed to dealing with suffering on a daily basis.

The Dominican Republic is a land of sugar cane, coffee plantations, and music. In the little town of San Pedro de Macoris, the hometown of former professional baseball player Sammy Sosa, sugar cane was transported by a slow moving train. As the train made its way through town, laden with the dark cane stalks, the local children played a dangerous game of jumping on and off the trains. It was during one of these childish games that Wilkin, then 16, fell beneath the wheels of the moving train and was dragged several yards down the tracks. He was taken to the new hospital where his left arm and left leg were immediately amputated. His right arm and leg were mangled, but the local surgeons tried desperately to save them.

Wilkin with family 2014Dr. Hobar and Dr. Larry Hollier, a noted hand surgeon from Houston, cleaned the severe wounds on Wilkin’s remaining arm and leg and determined a treatment plan later in the day. The operating schedule was rearranged to accommodate Wilkin, the team was ready to begin, but no one was prepared for the severity of Wilkin’s injuries or the condition of his remaining arm, which later required amputation. In the 17 years since LEAP first treated Wilkin, we have continued to monitor his progress and have outfitted him with prostheses for his arms and leg.

Wilkin is now in his 30’s, married with three children, and works with computers. As part of his ongoing care, LEAP recently provided him with replacement prostheses for both arms. It has been a joy to watch him flourish despite the many challenges he’s faced and to see him find love and happiness. One of the best parts of our mission work is that we get to return to the same communities and maintain lasting relationships with our patients.

Landmark Program: Updates on Xuan & Long

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We first introduced you to Landmark recipients Xuan (then 8 months old) and Long (age 9) when they first arrived in the U.S. from China in February. Both children were abandoned at birth, likely due to their significant craniofacial abnormalities.

We are delighted to share that both boys are doing incredibly well! The LEAP family has come out in support of these sweet souls in so many beautiful ways over the past 6 months. Seeing their transformations—both physically and emotionally—since their arrival has been such a joy.

FullSizeRender (1)According to Dr. Hobar, “Xuan has been one of the most challenging situations I have ever seen in a bilateral cleft lip. His attempted repair in China separated, and his lateral lips fused behind his central segment, pushing it out and away.”

This basically means that Xuan’s perceived simple surgery was in fact one of the most complex we’ve ever treated through LEAP. In total, Xuan has received four surgeries to repair his bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. There was a 4-week period when his mouth had to be mostly closed—imagine how hard that must have been for a growing baby who loves to eat!

Cotter FamilyThroughout it all, the Cotter family hosted Xuan in their home. Katie and Mike (a pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas) have 5 children, and everyone came together to care for Xuan while he healed. They bonded in a spectacular fashion, so much so that the Cotters have decided to be a family of 8 with plans to adopt Xuan!

Katie Xuan Rebecca Beth Kendall“Baby Xuan has been a blessing to our family, and I feel honored that LEAP contacted us to be a part of his care,” said Katie. “Through his cuddles and snuggles, he has opened our hearts in such a beautiful way. We have met so many outstanding people who are involved in helping this little one. Caring for Xuan is truly a labor of love for all involved.”

Xuan and Mike just returned from a week-long trip to Beijing in order to complete various medical exams at the children’s hospital there. Throughout the week, they were able to sightsee and enjoy several special moments together. Xuan was also able to see many of his former house moms at Little Flower Orphanage, who lovingly cared for him since he was a newborn.

IMG_9168Long is doing equally well!

During the first couple of months stateside, he was showered with love by the Ortegas and Howells, two longtime LEAP supporters and host families, where he had tons of adventures learning about American culture, cuisine, and comfort (his favorite food is still spicy chicken feet, though!). One of his favorite outings was his visit to the Anna Fire Department, where he loved learning how to aim the water hose and ring the fire bell.

Howells & LongHe was also warmly welcomed by Judy Chen and Jasper Wong along with their church family, who played a special role in his recovery by speaking Mandarin with him.

LEAP volunteer Charlie Lin, NP, was also integral to his care as a translator and appeared on NBC5 with the Howells and Long when his story was featured by Bianca Castro.

Long endured an 8+ hour surgery on March 8, after going through an extensive pre-op appointment the previous day that included a full debrief, where medical professionals explained what to expect in detail. Like several other Landmark recipients with complex facial clefts, his treatment required a multi-specialty approach. His surgery required four pediatric surgeons: Dr. Craig Hobar, Dr. Fred Sklar, Dr. Doug Sinn, and Dr. Evan Beale.

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 11.24.53 AM“Long waited a long time for this surgery, and it will definitely change his life,” said Dr. Hobar. “He is really smart and is bothered by how he is treated differently because of his craniofacial problem. I think he will be a very, very special young man because of who he is and what he has been through. We are thankful that we can be part of another miraculous transformation.”

A couple of weeks after his surgery, Long was able to have his sutures removed, and he met another Landmark recipient—Li Ying—who greeted him in Mandarin and brought a smile to his face.

On March 30, Long had his final appointment with Dr. Hobar before traveling to Georgia to stay with the Chinery family, who was advocating for his adoption. This family of 8 adopted two children from China last year. Their son Evan is a friend of Long who lived in the same orphanage!

Chinerys & LongWe got to see him again in May, when he had a busy day of diagnostic studies and evaluations with Dr. Hobar and Dr. Grant Gilliland. Long’s final surgery took place in late June. His time in Atlanta over the past 4 months has been truly wonderful. He has learned a tremendous amount of English, surpassed his grade level in home school education, and has become an excellent swimmer, recently receiving the Coach Team Award for Most Valuable Team Member.

The Chinerys have loved him well; he has thrived and become happier and more confident though their love and the community that has greatly embraced him.

Landmark Program: Long & Xuan

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16864453_10154833341597254_6025252422809752584_nLast month, Long (9 years old) and Xuan (8 months old) came to us from China to receive free surgeries provided by LEAP through our Landmark Program.

Both children were abandoned by their parents at birth, likely due to their craniofacial deformities. These surgeries will not only heal them physically but will allow for a greater opportunity to be adopted. That’s part of the beauty of our work, and we are grateful to be able to help them have a better chance at finding forever families.

It was such a joy to welcome them at DFW Airport after their long journey. We had a large, happy group of LEAP staffers, host families, and previous Landmark patients there to greet them.


IMG_8940Xuan is a cuddly and sweet little one who came to us after having had a prior cleft surgery that had complications. Upon arrival, he had a few appliances put in to help him with alignment issues prior to surgery. He will have two phases of surgery to repair his cleft lip.

Two families generously opened their hearts and homes to Xuan during his stay. Dr. Michael Cotter is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital. He along with his wife, Katie, and their five children were thrilled to welcome him as part of their big family. This is their first time hosting with LEAP.

During Xuan’s recovery phase, Jane Lamon, who hosted Li Ying last year, is once again serving as Host Mom. She’s raised four kids of her own, is a former nurse, and has a loving spirit.


IMG_8961Long is a loving, smart, and inquisitive boy who has severe craniofacial deformities. His surgery was quite complex in nature and took over 8 hours to complete. In his pre-op appointment, Long learned everything about his surgery so he knew what to expect. Dr. Hobar led the surgery and was accompanied by three other pediatric surgeons: Dr. Fred Sklar, Dr. Doug Sinn, and Dr. Evan Beale.

While he awaited surgery, he stayed a couple hours north in Oklahoma at the ranch home of Janet and Pat Ortega—longtime LEAP supporters who champion our mission in a number of ways. At the ranch, Long got to enjoy nature and animals and taught Janet’s parents—who he called “Grandma and Grandpa”—how to play chess.

Post-surgery, Long is staying with Melissa Howell, one of our wonderful LEAP volunteers who has traveled with us on several mission trips. She and her husband, Dan, have 7 children, and they all have been looking forward to showering Long with lots of love and affection!

Give Hope

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hope2A 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.


The Ripple Effect of Giving

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g99a5318-jin-li-ying-doug-lamon-1Do 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.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-10-03-59-amJane 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.”

g99a5095-matt-and-abby-lamon-1Matt 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.”

25th Anniversary Gala: A Legacy of Love, A Future of Hope (2/6)

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img_7449Our program included a moving video about beloved Landmark recipient Li Ying from China, who has been a LEAP patient for over ten years. Li Ying first came to the US in 2005, receiving two highly complex surgeries. Li Ying’s life was forever changed, and she has since returned for additional medical and surgical care. Li Ying has become family, especially to Robin and Craig Hobar, who she warmly refers to as “her grandparents”. There was no one more special than Li Ying to help present the Hobars with such an incredible award for all of their humanitarian efforts in the global community over the past 25 years.

L to R: Li Ying’s mother Mrs. Jin, LEAP Director of Missions Kristin McCool, LEAP Missions Coordinator Donna Matthews, and Li Ying

Landmark Program: Welcome Back, Li Ying!

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Li Ying Arrival 2 8-25-16

Left to Right: Co-Host Jane Lamon, LEAP Medical Volunteer Charlie Lin, Co-Host Aileen Chen, Mrs. Jin (Li Ying’s mother), Li Ying, and Co-Host Eric Lo

Landmark recipient Li Ying and her mother Mrs. Jin arrived safely from China on Thursday! Mother and daughter were cheerfully greeted at DFW Airport by an excited group of 23 people, including members of her co-host families, LEAP staff and volunteers, and the many who have followed Li Ying’s story since her first visit in 2005. Thank you all for giving Li Ying and Mrs. Jin such a warm welcome!

Li Ying will have her 3-plus hour surgery on September 2 at Medical City Children’s Hospital. If you would like to volunteer to sit with Mrs. Jin in the waiting room, please contact Ashley at (972) 566-6550 or



Landmark Program: Li Ying

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Li Ying Photo 2007 (1)

Li Ying (left) in 2007

We are very excited to welcome Li Ying back to Dallas later this month! Li Ying is a Landmark recipient who originally came to Dallas from China in 2005 after six months of careful planning and prayerful consideration by Dr. Craig Hobar. At the age of six years, Li Ying had the most severe craniofacial cleft that Dr. Hobar had ever seen. Her condition was so rare that no research existed for a recommended course of treatment. After an 11-hour facial reconstruction surgery, Li Ying was well on her way to recovery. A cleft palate repair was completed three weeks later.

Li Ying returned home and became a star student and favored resident of her village. She later returned to Dallas at the age of 11 for nasal reconstruction surgery at Medical City Children’s Hospital. Li Ying, now 17 years old, is returning back to Dallas to receive her final nasal reconstruction surgery by Dr. Hobar, again at Medical City Children’s Hospital.

Li Ying Photo 2011 (1)

Li Ying in 2011

LEAP has coordinated with two co-host families and a proverbial village of supporters to welcome Li Ying and her mother Jin back to Dallas, providing them with a loving, safe environment for the five weeks that they will be here. Her mother still marvels at how Li Ying was selected for a miraculous, life-changing surgery by doctors on the other side of the world.

Li Ying and her mother, Jin, will arrive at 5:00 pm this Thursday, August 25, at DFW Airport on American Airlines Flight 262.  If you would like to greet them at the airport on August 25 or be a part of their story while they are in Dallas, please contact Ashley Winder at or (972) 566-6550.

Landmark Program: Misha’s Story

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Babies are into everything. Here in the U.S., we have every baby-proofing tool at our fingertips. We can plug every outlet, soften every corner, gate off every stair, and lock every cabinet, and even then, in a split second, our endlessly curious children still manage to find themselves in harm’s way.


Silvia and Misha

Imagine living as a single mother to three children in the poorest country in the European Union. “Government housing” is a generous term for a shack with a dirt floor. Your kitchen is an open flame. You have only the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet.

This is the reality for Silvia.

Time stood still on the morning her youngest son—at 10 months old—accidentally poured hot oatmeal over himself and sustained devastating burns and hair loss to the left side of his head and face. Over time, she realized the extent of the scarring as well as the insurmountable cost of corrective surgery.

Misha’s story was brought to us through the nonprofit Solo Visions Charities, Inc., which raised funding for their airfare from Moldova to the U.S. so that now three-year-old Misha could be treated through our Landmark Program, which offers hope to children who have no options for care in their home countries.

In partnership with Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, LEAP provides children with the most complex surgical needs living in underserved areas of the world with the ability travel to the U.S. to receive high quality medical and surgical care—at no cost to their families.


The Doroshchuks | Host Family

In April, Silvia placed her two daughters in the care of church friends and took a leap of faith by stepping onto an airplane (for the first time) bound for Dallas. Upon arrival, the Doroshchuk family greeted her with a warm welcome in familiar Russian.

At his first pre-op appointment, we all immediately fell in love with Misha. Simply through the light in his eyes and the curl of his smile, he conveyed his sweet disposition and curious spirit. Without a full understanding of what was happening, it was evident that Misha was still able to comprehend that he was in the hands of strangers who cared deeply for his well-being.

In the early days, Silvia was amazed at the running water that came out of the bathtub. She marveled at electricity and the use of a refrigerator. Even Misha was thrilled to play with his new toys, despite his extensive surgeries and recovery.

LEAP Founder Dr. Craig Hobar—along with Dr. John Burns, his plastic surgeon colleague—thoughtfully developed a surgical plan for Misha. The first surgery included placement of tissue expanders to stretch his skin; the second surgery involved replacing the scar tissue. Throughout both surgeries, Dr. Burns conducted laser therapy treatment to help further reduce the scarring.

Over the course of three months, Misha remained under the care of Dr. Hobar and Dr. Burns as well as two Russian-speaking host families that provided them with endless compassion in a comforting home environment.


Dr. Craig Hobar

Misha did very well; his scarring was reduced by 80 percent, and his hairline and ear both returned to normal.

Last week, Silvia stepped back on an airplane to return home with Misha—both with a new outlook on life and uplifted spirits.

“We’re going to give Misha a chance to live a normal life,” said Dr. Hobar. “This injury won’t affect his ability to play with other kids, to go to school, or to integrate into society.”

To learn more about our Landmark Program, click here.

To watch the WFAA news story about Misha, click here.

Landmark Update: Farewell to Misha

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0721 surgery 4_1469141119716_4251271_ver1.0

Photo: WFAA

Today is bittersweet as Misha returns home to Moldova. His sweet spirit was captured so well in this WFAA-TV news story! We are grateful to Medical City Children’s Hospital for their invaluable partnership benefiting our Landmark recipients, Dr. John Burns who worked alongside Dr. Hobar in the OR, and the host families who took Misha and his mother in. Most of all, we are fortunate to have such a loving LEAP community that wraps their arms around special children like Misha.

Watch WFAA Story