Levi Bentley's face and body were severely burned when he was a newborn in China. He was wrapped in a funeral blanket and left in a field with 10 yuan to pay for his safe passage into the afterlife.
In Sunday's Southeast Missourian, Scott Moyers' powerful story and Diane L. Wilson's moving photographs told the story of Levi's miraculous survival, his adoption by American missionaries John and Lisa Bentley and their quest to help this 4-year-old with the buoyant spirit grow up.
Levi had had 15 previous surgeries. His left arm was amputated, along with the toes on the left foot. Surgeons in Texas reconstructed his remaining hand.
In Cape Girardeau last week, Dr. Gregory Tobin removed scar tissue from beneath Levi's chin that prevented him from smiling naturally. Tobin's sister, Camilla Carter, is a nurse who met the Bentleys at the Arlington, Texas, church they attend. She had promised her brother would help Levi. He did, without charge.
The Southeast Missourian Web site provided audio clips from interviews with Levi, his mother, his surgeon and others. On the Web site, the recording paired with the many photographs too numerous to use in the newspaper offered readers an even more touching experience.
Levi came here to improve his smile. He left us smiling too.
The audio slide show about Levi is on the semissourian.com Web site: