Little Grady was found at about 5pm, January 9th and it didn't take long for the orphanage to see that he was a very sick little boy, only three days old, in need of emergency surgery. The next day the orphanage made arrangements for him to come into our care, and we met them at the bus station where Grady was then rushed to the hospital via taxi. It was nearly midnight when Grady was finally admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with anal atresia. By 6:45am Grady was in surgery.
The emergency surgery on tiny Grady took five hours but the surgeon's report was not hopeful. It was too late. Grady's body had already begun to deteriorate before surgery, and his blood struggled to clot during the operation. A blood transfusion didn't seem to help and Grady was still bleeding and there was a high chance of infection. If the surgery had been done even one day sooner, he might have made it... but it was too late. Or so the doctor said.
A few hours later we heard back from the surgeon. Grady's situation was still very critical and the next few hours would decide his fate. His stomach was not working right and his color was very poor. The hospital told us to mentally prepare that he wouldn't make it.
Mentally preparing for a child to die is painful. It hurts. Even though we had only known Grady for a few hours, we struggled and grieved at the thought that he would not live to see the next morning... to learn how to smile, crawl or babble... that he would never have the chance to know the unconditional love of a forever family.
So, instead of preparing for Grady to die, we prayed that he would live.
And Grady did live.
Two days later, January 12th, the report from the surgeon was hopeful, although still nerve-wracking. The doctor's report was that Grady was not getting worse, and his intestines seemed to still be moving. His stomach was still distended but the doctors felt like it was acceptable and, if he continued to remain in his current condition without any changes for the worst, then in a few days he would be considered "stable."
January 15th Grady was removed from the breathing machine and seemed to be making small improvements bit by bit. He is still in ICU, but our hope for his life is being realized and we cannot wait to welcome him home.
Christopher's orphanage was very worried about him. His first operation to repair his very complicated heart defect in July 2012, when he was seven months old, seemed to be failing. Christopher's color was worse and he was struggling. The orphanage doctor wondered if his shunt, the piece in his heart re-routing blood so that his lungs could oxygenate it and fuel his body, was becoming blocked. She knew that if this was the case, Christopher would not last long. His oxygen saturation was dipping into the low 60s.
After consultation with some well-respected US cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, we told the orphanage that we might be able to help, that there might be hope for Christopher. He arrived at New Day November 1, 2012.
Within a few weeks, Christopher's oxygen saturations had already improved significantly and he was showing stats in the low-to-mid 80s. A check-up showed that Christopher's shunt was functioning well, and that he simply needed to gain weight in preparation for his next heart surgery.
We rejoiced at the miracle of Christopher's life and recovery, and he remained mostly stable for the next few months, although weak and slow to gain weight.
With a poorly functioning heart, Christopher struggled to gain enough weight to meet the 10kg goal set for him by the doctors. Month after month we weighed him, hoping for a large increase. Each month he only gained fraction of a kilo... and he still had a long way to go.
Finally, in November 2013, the doctors said that he was ready. He wasn't quite big enough, but the heart repair needed to happen sooner rather than later. We consulted with a few different hospitals, trying to get the best surgery plan in place for Christopher's very complicated heart defect, and settled upon his original surgeon, who had the lowest-risk plan to do the 2nd part of a 3-part heart operation, the 3rd of which could be done in the US, hopefully with Christopher's future adoptive family.
November 15th Christopher went into surgery. It should have been a basic operation, but when the surgeon opened him up, it was discovered that Christopher's heart was surrounded with scar tissue. The whole procedure should have taken only five hours, but four hours into the operation the surgeon told us that he was still in the mist of trying to separate the scar tissue. Another complication was Christopher's pulmonary hypertension. It was in the 30's. The doctor told us that if it did not come down to a normal range soon (about 14) then the surgery would have to be called off and Christopher would lose his chance to have a repaired heart.
Heartbroken that Christopher, our vibrant, loving little boy, might not make it out of the surgery room, we prayed, asking for healing, for stabilization and that Christopher's surgeons would have wisdom.
A few hours later we got another call - the surgery was done. It had been completed! After administering some medication, Christopher's levels had dropped to a level that made completing the operation possible. He had received his repair - we rejoiced at the miracle this was.
Christopher's recover was not easy, though. We worried many times that he might not make it out of the ICU. But in less than a week after heart surgery, on November 19th, Christopher was released from ICU into the regular ward. Six days later he was released from the hospital, home at last.
The battle wasn't over yet, though. Less than a week after being released from the hospital Christopher developed some concerning post-operative complications and we admitted him back into the hospital November 30th. He was suffering from pneumothorax, a common although very dangerous, post-op issue, and needed to be put on a special diet and have drainage tubes inserted. For a month Christopher healed in the hospital, and finally, December 30th, he was released.
We are so thankful for Christopher, his whole life is an amazing story.
The doctors in the hospital where she was being treated for pneumonia said that she was too sick to travel to Beijing. For two weeks her little body had been given IV medication, but it was making no difference. Tiny baby Iris was getting sicker and sicker, and her orphanage was becoming seriously concerned.
Once we received the call asking us to help her, and a bed in a Pediatric Intenstive Care Unit became available, train tickets were booked. Against the doctors' advice tiny, Iris set off on a long journey, accompanied by two nannies from her orphanage and supplies of oxygen to help keep her alive while she travelled.
She made it. At the hospital in Beijing they ran tests and it turns out there was a very good reason why the pneumonia medication had not been helping her. The X-rays had indeed shown a large white area on the lungs, but this was not fluid resulting from an infection. Instead it was the results of a serious condition called 'cardiac pulmonary edema', where blood backs up from the heart into the lungs.
Iris needs a heart operation soon, and we are waiting and hoping for her to be stable enough. If she had stayed in the local hospital being mistakenly treated for pneumonia much longer then her story would probably be over already, but now we believe that it is just beginning.
November 22, 2013
Iris was admitted into the PICU ward of the Army hospital upon her arrival to Beijing, a place that would become her home for the next five weeks. For nearly two weeks she lay alone in an ICU bed, medical staff and monitors as her only company. On December 4th, the doctors told us that Iris needed to have surgery right away. Her condition was stable, but Iris was by no means ready for a major open-heart surgery. But there was no other option - without immediate surgery, Iris would deteriorate and all hope would be lost.
The surgery took three and a half hours and while it was successful and the surgeon was able to repair her heart, Iris was very unstable post-op. Her left lung, weak and damaged after months of improper blood flow and hypertension, had collapsed. Iris' heart was enlarged and her heart rate was so low and unstable that the doctors had to resort to medication to attempt to stabilize her. 24 hours after surgery she was still not stable enough to have her chest closed, and remained in dangerous condition.
Each minute of Iris' recovery was touch-and-go. But she kept fighting, and two days later the surgeons were able to close up her chest. Extubating was another story, though, and for eight days after surgery Iris depended on machines to breath. Multiple times the doctors attempted to wean her from the ventilator, but not until December 22nd was the transition from complete intubation to CPAP successful.
As the days went by, Iris slowly improved. She began receiving nutrition through an NG-tube, and continued to be fever-free. On New Years Eve she was transferred from PICU to the regular ward, which meant that for the first time in her life, Iris would have a mama to hold her in the hospital and to comfort her when she cried. Iris was abandoned as a newborn and admitted into her local PICU right away, she never had anybody who was there to care just for her.
Iris was getting better, but because she was still so tiny and weak, we anticipated that she had at least a few more weeks in the hospital to regain her strength before she could come home. Each step of her journey - her travel to Beijing, surviving heart surgery, learning how to breath on her own - was a miracle. On January 7th the most incredible miracle happened. Iris was released from the hospital. She weighed only 2.7kg (about six pounds), and was severely malnourished. She is not yet the strong and healthy little girl that we hope she will become, but she's alive. Her eyes are bright and alert and there is someone to cradle her close and adore her during each moment of her day.
With each chapter of Iris' story we have seen many miracles occur and stood in awe of a powerful, healing God. We cannot wait to see what's next for her... it's bound to be breathtaking.
Several scientific and medical studies have shown that a lack of love can stunt children’s physical, emotional and intellectual growth. There is even a name for this affliction; “psychosocial deprivation." When Zoe arrived at New Day in November 2012, we believe that she was suffering from just that. But it didn't take long for us to see a transformation in her life that amazed us, and gave us hope for children affected by such deprivation.
Zoe came to New Day shortly before her fifth birthday. She came from a very poor orphanage where the ratio of nannies to children is very low, and her development was severely delayed. When Zoe arrived, she had only recently learned how to walk, was very small for her age, and had a serious look about her. She was also in need of heart surgery.
The change we saw in Zoe during her first few months at New Day was nothing short of dramatic. She was tenderly loved and cared for by her foster family, and in the first six months that she was with us she grew nine centimeters (3.5 inches). She became, in the words of her foster mom, “a very happy, spunky girl who laughs often." In the summer of 2013 she had the heart surgery that she needed and made an amazingly quick recovery.
These days, Zoe continues to soak up the unconditional love and affection of her foster family. Her favorite activities are listening to stories and cooking, and she has a close bond with her foster sister. She attends preschool in the Foster Home and enjoys opportunities to learn and play with her friends.
Zoe is a beautiful demonstration of the healing power of love. It was love that was needed to make her little body grow and begin to thrive, and it's love that sends us hunting for bigger clothes for quickly-growing Zoe. Love works miracles, and Zoe's life is proof.
When he was four months old Mark was abandoned at a hospital. We can only speculate what motives led his birthparents to leave him alone that cold, November day. His assessment at the hospital revealed that Mark was born with a very large hernia and Biliary Atresia. We begin to understand... Biliary Atresia is a life-threatening GI defect that, if not treated in the first few months of life, will require a liver transplant within the first 18 months of life. At the latest.
Mark's local orphanage lacked the recourses to provide life for this sweet little boy, and so he was transferred to our Beijing facility. Successfully having arranged for two liver transplants, in cooperation with a hospital in the city and their valiant head surgeon, we had hope that Mark's life would be yet another miracle.
For an orphan to receive a liver transplant is technically impossible, but we had seen it happen before and so we believed that Mark's life would also be saved.
Then Mark arrived at New Day June 19, 2013, and our faith wavered a little bit. His liver disease was more progressed than we had ever seen. His abdomen was so distended with ascites (a sign of liver failure) that he could not roll over. His eyes were golden where they should have been white and his skin was a burnt shade of orange.
Mark's case was so severe that he needed to be admitted into the hospital July 2, 2013, to receive treatment for his ascites. The necessary tests were also done and he was put on "the list." Every few days we would contact the doctors, asking for an update on Mark's condition. Each time they said that his condition was "very serious" and that he would need a transplant soon. They weren't sure that he was going to make it. Dr. Li, the head surgeon, told us July 16th that he was concerned that Mark would go into liver failure before a liver could be found for him. We were also warned that Mark was approaching a hepatic coma. He wasn't going to make it.
As the weeks stretched on the doctor's updates became more and more grim. Twice we had close calls with potential livers, but they both fell through. July 30th Mark contracted pneumonia and so was not a candidate for a transplant until he had recovered.
August 9th we got a call at 5pm. A liver was on its way to Bejing. Mark's pneumonia was gone and the liver was a good enough match to risk the surgery. But Mark was in very bad condition. His coloring had become so bad that his skin was nearly black in places. He was miserable, weak, and very sick. The surgeons warned us that his surgery was very high-risk, that his situation was much more serious than the other operations that they had done on our kids. They were concerned that he wouldn't make it and yet everyone agreed that without the surgery he had no hope at all.
Mark went into surgery at 7:45pm that night. The tireless surgeons worked through the night and, 13.5 hour later, they were done. They gave us little more information than that the surgery "went well" and was "successful." But still we couldn’t help but worry - would Mark survive the intense recovery that his ill body needed to go through?
Our fears were unfounded five hours later when Mark woke up and was extubated. Three days later he was released from ICU and into a regular ward. And each day after that Mark made more and more improvements.
His miracle came at just the right moment. It's in our books as one of the most marvelous we've ever seen.
"Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles, and the judgments he uttered." Psalm 105:5
In June we got a call about a newly abandoned baby with a very serious heart defect. The orphanage contacted us, asking if we could help. Sadly, we had no open beds. We had to say no. It hurt. But we hoped that the little one would survive, we hoped that she would hang on and prove the doctors wrong. We wanted for her to have life.
A month later the orphanage contacted us again. The little one was still hanging on, and this time, because of a few recent adoptions, we were able to say "yes."
Adia arrived at New Day Foster Home on July 10th.
She was rushed straight to the hospital for a full evaluation We were sure that she would be scheduled soon for surgery. We hoped that surgery would be possible.
The news was almost too good to be true. Somehow, for some unknown reason, Adia's heart was not as serious as before believed. In fact, she didn't need surgery right away at all! We brought Adia straight home to New Day, rejoicing that she wouldn't have to stay at the hospital... rejoicing that she had hope.
There isn't really any other explanation for Adia's healing other than a miracle. That's okay, we don't need another explanation. A miracle is just fine by us.
This is the stuff that miracles are made out of. Impossibilities. "Nevers." Dreams that you didn't even dare to dream coming true. This is Talley's story.
Talley was born on a cold February day in Northern China. Four months later she was abandoned - left alone in a hotel room. Her birth parents must have been watching their little girl with a cleft palate slowly grow thin and frail, her skin gradually become jaundiced, her belly distended and her once-white eyes glow yellowish-green. Something was terribly wrong with their little one. Maybe she was dying?
We will never know just how much Talley's birthparents knew about her situation when they abandoned her on that June day, but we can guess that their decision to leave their baby girl alone was a desperate measure to give her a chance at survival, and Talley would need a miracle to survive.
When she arrived at the orphanage Talley was diagnosed with a cleft palate, a heart defect and a liver disease called "Biliary Atresia." Biliary atresia is a congenital defect where the bile ducts between the liver and the intestine are either malformed or not formed at all. If caught and treated early, the child can avoid a liver transplant for a few years. If not, they have about 18 months to get a new liver or they will die. Talley had just one year remaining to get a new liver or she would die.
Talley's orphanage knew that she would have no hope at all if she remained where she was. The hospitals in her province could never do a liver transplant, even if an organ were to become available. We knew that it would take a miracle for Talley to survive, because organ donations are so rare in China. Only 1 person of every 150 gets the transplant that they need, and Talley's position in society as an orphan would technically make her chances non-existent.
Still, we knew that we had to try to give her life, and so Talley arrived at New Day Foster Home July 26, 2012.
Deep sadness greeted us when we met her. Abandoned only a month earlier and then living in a hospital had damaged the already broken heart of this little girl. We knew that on top of good nutrition, medical care and access to top hospitals, Talley needed a triple dose of love and so we gave it to her.
It didn't take long for Talley's grim expressions to be replaced by giggles of joy. Her personality made us laugh and getting to know her was an awesome privilege. But the smiles and the giggles were not independent of the discomfort and pain that Talley experienced on a daily basis. We watched as her color grew more jaundiced and her belly more distended. We worried that Talley's miracle wouldn't come in time.
It was 5am on a Friday morning at the end of May when we got the call. There was a liver on its way to the hospital and if Talley could get there on time and was healthy enough for surgery, it would be hers. By 8am she was at the hospital running every test imaginable. She had spiked a fever early that morning, but her lungs looked clear and this was her chance at life. By late morning she was in surgery and 9.5 hours later the doctors told us that it was a success!
However, the next few days would show us whether Talley's body would accept the new liver or not. After the first day she was still running a fever, was restless despite being sedated and her liver enzyme levels were through the roof. The next few days showed gradual improvement, and on day three Talley was taken off of the ventilator.
After a month of tweaking medications, and keeping an eye on Talley's incision, she was released from the hospital July 2nd, 2013.
Talley is home. She still has some surgeries ahead of her, but her life has been saved in the most incredible way: a miracle.
On a lonely day in May, a five month old baby girl, blue from lack of oxygen, her heart fluttering and murmuring in ways a heart should never beat, was left at the front gate of an orphanage. For another five months the staff at the orphanage tried to care for this frail little baby, but she was too weak and they knew that if she didn’t have surgery to repair her heart, she would not survive. October 10th, Leila joined the New Day South family.
Physically Leila struggled, her heart working too hard each day to provide her body with what it needed, but Leila began to thrive in other ways. She learned quickly that she was loved and we began to see smiles and hear the most joyful giggles. In November, Leila was admitted into the hospital. She wasn’t doing well and the doctors arranged for heart surgery right away. The surgery on November 13th went well and Leila recovered quickly. She was released from the hospital and returned home, doing well.
A few weeks later, however, Leila developed bronchial pneumonia. It was right before Christmas, and Leila was admitted into the hospital again. Her heart was doing fine, but Leila’s condition was not improving. January 19th – after nearly a month in the hospital, the doctors discovered that Leila had developed a hard-to-control bacterial infection. A few days later, after running many tests, the doctors diagnosed Leila’s infection – endocarditis. In addition she was diagnosed with Chylothorax Effusion, which in China is basically a death sentence.
And so we prayed. We prayed for health and healing for Leila, that she would be restored and renewed and that her life and her recovery would be a stunning miracle, blowing the doctor’s minds and strengthening our faith.
At first, it didn’t seem like our prayers were being answered. Leila’s condition remained stable through Chinese New Year. Her appetite improved, her spirits were good and her white blood cell count decreased. But still the infection did not disappear and Leila’s lungs continued to dump fluid. The doctors put her on a six-week antibiotic treatment plan, began parenteral nutrition and diet control. But six weeks later the news was not good. Leila’s veins were too fragile for the parenteral nutrition. She was developing thrombus on both sides of her groin and the doctor felt like there were no more options left.
The doctor said that he would try his best, but he hinted that all of the patients he had like her in the past had died.
So it seemed like our prayers weren’t being answered. Leila’s condition was now desperate… she had little hope to survive. Leila’s life was in His hand… that’s where it had been all along, and if she were to survive, it would be because He worked a miracle.
That’s just what happened. Leila should have been deteriorating, but she gained weight. Leila’s lungs should have kept pouring out fluid because the doctors knew no way to stop the flow… and yet the drainage slowed down. One at a time, Leila’s lung tubes came out and then, as if all of a sudden, although we had been waiting for this day for months, the doctor mentioned the word, “release.”
The last time we had talked to the doctor he said that Leila would probably die. Now he was telling us that she could come home. When all hope is gone, that’s when the most mind-blowing miracles happen. Humbled, amazed and knocked to our knees in awe, we welcomed our sweet Leila home April 7, 2013.
Thousands of feet above the ground an airplane flew from western China towards the Beijing airport. Looking up, no one would have guessed the precious bundle that this airplane carried, nor could they have fathomed the miracle that was happening before their eyes.
On the Tuesday before the week-long Chinese New Year holiday, we received a call from an orphanage in Western China. They were calling about a baby boy who had been born premature, who only weighed 2.04kg, and who had esophageal atresia. The local hospitals were unable to do the surgery that would save this little baby’s life, and as the holiday approached, this little boy whose Chinese name meant “precious baby,” was running out of chances. We contacted a trusted surgeon at one of the most well-equipped hospitals in Beijing, and he told us that without surgery, the baby had no chance at life. It would be a risk to bring him in, but that was a risk that we were going to have to take if we wanted to give this precious baby any hope of survival.
Believing that this tiny child was a part of a bigger plan, we named him Benjamin, and told the orphanage go ahead and order the earliest possible airplane tickets.
For Benjamin to survive the 4.5 hour flight without IV nutrition and fluids would be a battle. As a preemie, his organs were weaker and would shut down faster. Benjamin needed a miracle, and he needed a very expedient trip to the hospital upon arriving in Beijing.
Things did not go according to plan. The flight that Benjamin was on was scheduled to arrive around noon, but by 1:30 the team we sent to pick him up, including our doctor, had not yet seen him. We were very worried. The clock was ticking and Benjamin’s chances were growing slimmer. Finally we received a call, but it was from the police. They asked us a lot of questions about the tiny baby that supposedly had flown all the way to Beijing to be in our care. They questioned us, worried that there was a child trafficking situation going on. We quickly replied that no, this was a life-and-death situation. This little baby had come to Beijing so that he could live, and if they detained him any longer, he would die. We put the police in touch with Benjamin’s orphanage to confirm the situation, which they did, while our doctor and team raced to the detainment area of the airport to meet the little child that was causing such a stir. In the meantime, the surgeon from the hospital called our offices. He wanted to know where the baby was, and why he hadn’t arrived yet. We explained the situation and the surgeon became angry, “Tell the police that if they don’t let this child get to the hospital right away he will die and it will be their fault!” he said.
Eventually, we were allowed to transport Benjamin to the hospital. At this point he had received no fluids for nearly 7 hours, and we worried that this could cause major problems. The police, still unsure of the credibility of this situation, accompanied our team to the hospital where they were able to confirm that we were legitimate after seeing additional documentation and talking with the doctors.
Benjamin, meanwhile, was rushed into NICU where he was put on IV nutrition and placed in an incubator. The surgeon examined him, and declared him stable. So stable, in fact, that it was time for surgery. Not three hours after Benjamin arrived at the hospital, he went into surgery to repair his esophageal atresia. The emergency surgery took 3.5 hours and was complicated, but successful.
In addition to esophageal atresia, it was discovered that Benjamin also had anal atresia and his intestines were connected to his urethra. He is going to need additional surgeries in his future, but this first surgery is done, and so Benjamin has a chance at life.
As the airplane carrying Benjamin soared through the dusty grey skies of Beijing and prepared to land, a miracle was being orchestrated. Benjamin’s miracle is not one that we could have ever anticipated… he came into our lives so quickly. The story of our precious baby Benjamin is one that only a merciful and loving Heavenly Father could have written.
Benjamin was taken off of the ventilator over the weekend, and no longer needed supplemental oxygen by the next week. For the first few days following surgery Benjamin’s blood pressure was fluctuating, he was drifting in and out of consciousness, there was a lot of edema and his kidneys and liver were not functioning well. But within a week he stabilized significantly. On the 20th an esophageal angiogram was done; the results were good and Benjamin began eating.
We look forward to welcoming Benjamin home, and cannot wait to see what lies ahead for his future.
We were shocked to hear from Anna Rose’s doctor that her severe heart defect was not the biggest issue in her case. Her left bronchial tube had severe stenosis, making the risks of heart surgery great and the chances of her surviving heart surgery and being able to come off of the ventilator slim. Anna Rose was admitted into the hospital October 22, 2012 and her case was taken on by the top surgeon at her hospital. But even he was reluctant to operate, and he took time to perform tests and get to know her case as well as he could before surgery.
“None of the doctors wanted to perform her surgery,” said the nanny who lived with Anna Rose for the month she waited in the hospital, “they were all scared.”
Anna Rose waited in the hospital for a month, but her situation didn’t change and she couldn’t wait much longer for her heart to be repaired. November 21, 2012 Anna Rose went into surgery. It took six long hours, but according to the surgeons, was successful. The doctors had never been extremely concerned about her operation; it was the post-op recovery period that they were nervous about. Anna Rose was on the ventilator for a week, but miraculously was able to be weaned off of it with no major issues. Not wanting to rush her recovery the doctors kept her in PICU till December 10th. Still needing occasional oxygen and breathing treatments, Anna Rose and her nanny stayed in the hospital for another two weeks, until December 25, 2012.
She was released from the hospital on Christmas day, the precious “miracle” of her hospital ward.
The hospital in Wayne’s home province that had been treating him for pneumonia and meningitis sent him home to die. They said that his case was hopeless. One of thirty babies assigned to two nannies in a new orphanage, no one had ever been trained to feed Wayne, who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Aspiration must have led to infection and, because of the severity of his case, Wayne’s orphanage knew that he wouldn’t last long. But the orphanage chose not to give up so quickly. They contacted a foreign organization for help on Friday, November 2nd. A few phone calls later and our Formula Project Coordinator and PR staff, Wayne, received a message from his friend who had heard of the dying baby’s plight.
We were at full capacity, but because one of our children was in the hospital, we had an empty bed. Wayne relayed to us the message from his friend, “This little baby has been given up on. His special need is not so serious, but because of his situation and circumstances, he has no hope. He’s going to die unless we help.” Saying a desperate prayer for the little one’s safety, we called the orphanage and said, “If he’ll make it, send him.”
Early Sunday morning, November 4, 2012, baby Wayne was admitted into a hospital in Beijing with one of our nannies. He survived the long trip, but was running a fever. We called the hospital on Monday to ask about his condition, and were told that he was no longer running a fever and that his pneumonia had improved drastically. Although Wayne had previously been diagnosed with meningitis, the doctors here ruled it out, saying that he showed none of the symptoms. On Tuesday Wayne was doing great, and he was released from the hospital on Wednesday, totally healthy.
When we prayed that short, desperate prayer late Friday afternoon, we hoped only for survival. In His abundant grace, God gave us a miracle. He did the impossible. When Wayne in the office saw the smile on baby Wayne’s face after coming home from the hospital, there were tears in his eyes. The child that was given up on had been saved. The baby who was once lost in a sea of faces in an orphanage now has a name and a home and a hope. Wayne’s Chinese name means “victory.” The Father to the fatherless has already won a great and marvelous victory in little Wayne’s life. He has reminded us to believe in miracles.
October 9, 2012
Her story began with life June 2, 2012, the day she was born, but in less than a week it already looked like a tragedy. Left in a bundle at the local hospital, Annabel’s tiny, frail body struggled to survive. A treasure born into a broken world, abandonment and illness were already making their tragic way into Annabel’s story. But Annabel was found, and then admitted immediately into the hospital where she was diagnosed with a very complicated tracheal esophageal fistula – disorder of the digestive system in which the esophagus does not develop properly. Annabel’s condition was so complex that the doctors were unable to place a feeding tube, and so she survived on IV nutrition for nearly two months, until she came into our care.
The weather forecast for July 26, 2012 gave a 90% chance of rain. Flooding was expected and our hearts were in our throats as Annabel was disconnected from the IV nutrition and oxygen that had sustained her life for two months and carried into the car that would drive her the six hours from her orphanage to the hospital in Beijing. We prayed that the car would not get stuck in the floods and that she would survive. Those prayers were answered in marvelous ways. It didn't rain a single drop, and as we stood waiting at the entrance of the hospital, Annabel was carried from the car – alive. She was rushed into an already-reserved bed and immediately put on oxygen.
As Annabel’s condition was examined, the doctors were very concerned. On the evening of July 29th we were called to the hospital to talk with the doctors about her case. Half of her one lung had collapsed and was bleeding. She was in serious condition. We prayed, and while Annabel didn't improve, she didn’t get worse either. But as the days went by and Annabel didn't gain strength, the chances of her surviving the impending surgery grew slimmer… and then Annabel began to deteriorate. For Annabel to have a chance at survival, her doctors were going to have to leap at the fast-narrowing window of opportunity and operate.
August 13th the doctors scheduled her for surgery – a last-ditch effort to save her life. The 4 hour surgery on our 5lb treasure was successful, but Annabel was not out of the woods yet. Her lung was still collapsed and she was very, very weak. But it was a miracle that Annabel had survived the surgery, that her orphanage had contacted us when they did and that Annabel was able to make it to New Day.
Annabel’s miracle continued to develop, and in the following days, Annabel improved. Her lung slowly recovered and she began receiving nutrition through a feeding tube. Within a few weeks, she was drinking formula, for the first time in her life.
September 28th, 2012, two months after Annabel had arrived at New Day – though she never actually stayed on the grounds, Annabel was released from the hospital. She is still quite weak, but is gaining weight and smiling. When her story began, it looked like a tragedy. But today? Annabel is very much a miracle and her story is full of overwhelming hope.
Earlier this year, an elderly gentleman named Mr Marshall contacted us, wanting to sponsor a little girl’s cleft lip and palate surgery in honor of his granddaughter. He wanted to change a life; we had no idea that he would actually save one.
We didn’t have any little girls with cleft lip and palate in the foster home at the time, but there was one child on our waiting list who would fit the bill, and a bed had just opened up in the foster home.
Maya arrived February 9, 2012.
She was a healthy little baby. Quick to smile and laugh, we immediately fell deeply in love with her. We assumed that, in a few months, she would be big enough for her cleft lip and palate surgery, and that would be all. We didn’t know that Maya’s situation would rapidly become something that we had never dealt with before. Something that scared us.
In April, Maya began to have stomach pains. As the days and weeks progressed, her nannies began noticing a growth in Maya’s abdomen. The growth was getting bigger. We took Maya to the hospital and had her seen by a specialist. She was diagnosed with a Wilms’ Tumor. Maya had cancer, and it was growing quickly. The tumor was too big to operate on at the time, and Maya was scheduled to start Chemotherapy. At this time, she has had her first treatment.
Because the tumor was caught when it was, Maya’s chances are good. She may loose a kidney to this cancer, but in the big picture, that is not a huge loss, because Maya is alive.
If she had not come to New Day and been in the care of our loving and perceptive nannies, the growth might never have been noticed. If she had not traveled to Beijing to have her cleft lip and palate surgery, she would not have been here where high quality treatment options are available. If it was not for the grandfather who wanted to honor his granddaughter by changing a life, Maya might not be alive today.
Maya still has a lot to overcome in the next few months, but we are thankful that she has been given this chance to fight.
Updated July 2012
Maya’s tumor was growing too fast. The doctors had recommended that she complete a few rounds of chemotherapy before undergoing surgery to remove the tumor. Their hope was that the chemotherapy would cause the tumor to shrink, but it wasn’t shrinking. On top of that, the two rounds of chemotherapy had taken their toll on Maya’s little body. Her strength and weight were down and a lung infection – pneumonia – hit her hard. On May 7th, our doctor examined Maya and said that she couldn’t hang on much longer. If she didn’t have surgery to remove the tumor that very week, Maya would not make it.
The tumor continued to grow and Maya was wasting away as the tumor sucked the life from her little body – consuming all of the calories that we desperately fed her.
She was dying and all that we could do was hold her weak little body and pray. Maya became too weak to even smile, and with that our hope for her life began to grow dim. Our tears fell upon Maya’s fragile hand, we weren’t sure what to do, but we had to do something. The cancer was not going to take the life of our precious Maya; we had to give her a fighting chance.
Maya was admitted into the hospital that Monday afternoon to get a nutrition IV. The hospital scheduled surgery to remove the tumor four days later (Thursday) as long as she was healthy. But the report early Thursday morning was that Maya once again had pneumonia. On top of that, her heart was enlarged and the surgeon said that surgery was not an option until she recovered and stabilized.
Because of the hospital’s long waiting list, Maya’s doctor prepared to discharge her. Her bed was needed for others, but with Maya’s past history of getting sick, and then sicker, we knew that she needed it more. Our hearts literally hurt with the thought that she would need to be released in her weak state. She needed the constant attention and accessibility to high-quality care that only the hospital could provide. Her only hope was to stay in the hospital until surgery could be done. We begged the doctor to allow her to stay. It would be a miracle if he said “yes”. But then the director of the hospital walked into the room and we implored him to allow Maya to remain in her bed until she could have surgery. He agreed. The impossible happened, and we were reminded that, “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.”
Maya was being given a chance, if she could make it until then. Still, every last drop of hope seemed gone as every ounce of strength was leaving Maya’s delicate, sick body. Again we were being forced to hang on to the Truth that there is a God in heaven who heals; who restores and redeems. Begging Him to restore life to Maya’s body, we went into her hospital room to see her.
Something was different. Despite battling pneumonia, loosing much-needed weight and being weaker than we had ever seen her… Maya was better. There was a tiny spark in her eyes and a little smile about her lips, as we reminded her how special she was. And the tumor didn’t seem to be growing; in fact, it almost looked smaller.
After one more week of treatment in the hospital, Maya was scheduled for surgery. It was a miracle she survived those days of waiting. The surgery took three hours. Her whole left kidney needed to be removed along with the massive tumor. The tumor weighed nearly 2lbs, 20% of Maya’s bodyweight.
A biopsy of the tumor showed that it was indeed malignant, but that no further tumors resided in her body.
Maya amazed us with her recovery. She was released from the hospital a week after surgery, and already had her big smile back. As her nanny carried her back through the foster home doors, Maya gave a huge grin. People doubted that I would make it, and that I’d ever come back through these doors. But here I am again, alive and so, so happy to be home.
.Updated Jan 28, 2013
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Maya began chemotherapy to prevent the spread of cancer cells in her body post-tumor removal on May 20th, and continued with one treatment each week and a week of treatments every three weeks. During the week of chemotherapy, Maya would often come home exhausted and sleep through the afternoon. Once Maya’s platelet count got too low and she needed to be admitted into the hospital for blood transfusions, but she otherwise remained remarkably healthy and strong. When Maya should have been weak and tired, she was strong and full of giggles.
Her nannies often told us when she returned home from chemotherapy treatments that “Maya had smiled at the nurse who gave her the shot.” And there was something else remarkable that her nannies noticed. All of the other children at the hospital receiving chemotherapy treatments were bald – they had no hair. But Maya? Her hair was long, though thin. And then, just a few months ago, Maya’s hair began to thicken. Daily and weekly chemotherapy treatments seemed to have no effect on her hair, if only to make it thicker.
It is another miracle… another piece of tangible evidence that God gives good gifts to his children.
Update: May 2013
After nearly a year of chemotherapy, Maya is done. The last few weeks for her have been full of tests and consultations, but on May 24th, Maya was officially declared cancer free. When we think of how ill she was last year and of how it seemed that all hope was gone, we are even more amazed at this little girl’s fight. She was carried through it all in the arms of the Great Physician and now we are seeing the finale of a brilliant miracle. As Maya grows up, she will have quite the story to tell. It’s the story of a little girl who once was unwanted, broken and dying… and is now renewed and restored and ready to take on anything.
June 10, 2012
Beginning with the moment Alea was born, and even before that day, there was a plan for her life. She would become a marvel to many, and her life would bring praises to the Sustainer of Life.
In February 2012 we received a phone call from an orphanage. They told us about a new baby girl whose serious medical needs could not be treated in any of the local hospitals. They asked for our help. We didn’t know if we would be able to help, but we said “Yes.” As we called the orphanage back, agreeing to do our best to save Alea’s life, we wondered if what we could give to her would be sufficient.
Alea was suffering from biliary atresia, and because her liver was so damaged she was not a candidate for the Kasai procedure that would have postponed her need for a liver transplant- she was going to need a transplant soon. When Alea arrived at NDFH, the first thing we noticed about her was how jaundiced she was. Her skin was orange and her eyes glowed yellow-green. Alea’s abdomen was also very distended, yet another sign of how damaged her liver was.
In China, organ donations are virtually non-existent. It isn't a culturally accepted practice, so they simply just don’t happen. So when Alea was put on “the list” we didn’t give the possibility of a liver being found in China for her much thought. We didn’t think that it would happen, so if she was going to survive, we would have to come up with another way to save her life.
We explored surgery in the US; we talked about a super-quick adoption; and we begged the Lord every day that he would give Alea a new liver, just like that. With all of the life-saving options Alea had, and with each one of them being miraculous and impossible in their own way, we wondered just how Alea’s precious life would be saved.
But Alea’s time was running out. She was nearly eight months old and her doctors said she had just ten months left, maximum, before she would begin to deteriorate and all hope would be lost. Prospective adoptive families were coming forward for her, funds were being raised... it seemed like hope was rising for Alea.
Then, May 11, 2012, she vomited a mouthful of blood.
Terrified that Alea could be experiencing acute liver failure, we admitted her into the one and only hospital in Beijing that does liver transplants. Alea went through many tests evaluations and scans, and then the doctors told us to “be emotionally and financially prepared for a liver to come available this month.” We were shocked. Maybe Alea’s miracle would come from the place we least expected it?
Alea, a baby abandoned when she was three months old with a condition her birth parents probably could not dream of finding a way to repair, was not only on the list, she was at the top. Two weeks later a liver became available, but Alea’s doctor said that it was “not good enough” for her. She had a doctor fighting for her in the hospital, whose promises to us began to illuminate the hope that was indeed rising.
For two more weeks Alea waited. She was sleeping poorly, malnourished and even required a blood transfusion. She seemed to be deteriorating, and there was nothing that could be done but wait and pray that the right liver would become available.
June 9th we received a phone call late in the afternoon. A suitable liver had been found! Things fell quickly into place and we raced to the hospital to meet with the doctor. A liver was indeed ready and waiting for Alea, but this surgery was not going to be easy.
She was malnourished, which would make recovery risky. Alea was running a low fever, and the immune-suppressant medications she would be on after surgery would increase her risk of infection. Alea’s bile ducts would need to be attached to her new liver, and this part of the surgery was complex, as well as extremely difficult. The surgery would take at least ten hours and though statistics for adults were good, children often did not survive. There was a chance that Alea wouldn’t make it out of the surgery room... were we willing to sign?
But what was the other option… to just let her die? “We are willing,” we said, and signed the papers, knowing that this was not just a last-ditch-effort to save Alea’s life; it was a pre-ordained miracle to give her the abundant life she deserved.
Still, our hearts were in our throats as the hours ticked by after we handed our precious little girl over to the surgeons. Midnight passed, then the wee hours of the morning crept by... our nervousness was coupled with excitement. God was going to do something in Alea; we just knew it.
Ten hours later and she was not out of surgery. Eleven hours later and no news… Finally, at 10:00 am Sunday morning, eleven and a half hours after Alea had gone into surgery, they were closing her up. The head surgeon came out to talk with us. “It went well,” he said. He also explained to us that Alea’s liver had come from a two year-old child who died of brain damage. This child’s parents wanted their child’s organs to be donated, to save another child’s life. A selfless choice in a time of unspeakable grief made by any family, made even more miraculous by the fact that this is China, a place where organ donation is rarely considered.
Thirty minutes later and Alea was being transferred into ICU from the operating room. The surgery was done, she had survived. Alea still has to recover; her little body must accept its new liver, and she has a lot of strength to gain. The doctors have told us that her color will be changing daily. The next time we see her, her skin might be pink, and those big eyes will probably be encircled with white, rather than green.
A miracle has happened. We texted the director of Alea’s orphanage, telling her that Alea had just survived the desperately needed liver transplant. In reply, we received this message, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving her life.”
We didn’t save her life – our best thought plans of what might work to rescue Alea didn’t happen, but God’s plan did. He was the miracle worker and He saved Alea’s life.
November 11, 2011 a little girl was born in East China. But all was not as her family might have pictured those precious early days with a new baby... she was born with anal atresia and an intestinal fistula. Sadly she was abandoned three days later, a gravely sick newborn baby girl.
Because her body was unable to expel its waste, surgery couldn't wait. In her home province on December 8, Lydia had emergency surgery to create an anus. She was not yet a month old, and in the rush to save her life, the doctors failed to do certain tests that would have led to the discovery of another, very serious, congenital disease.
Only two weeks after the emergency surgery, Lydia was brought to New Day Foster Home. The next day she was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia. Tests were done which showed that Lydia had a serious heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot. She was released from the hospital two weeks later, frail and weak, with even more hurdles to overcome.
But Lydia had already overcome her first hurdle – she was already a miracle. In almost all cases, doctors are unwilling to perform a non-heart related surgery on a child with a heart defect. It can be very dangerous, but Lydia survived her first anal atresia repair without doctors even knowing her heart was so broken.
In the following weeks and months, Lydia fell victim to the vicious cycle of an unrepaired heart defect. She was too tiny for her much-needed heart surgery so the doctors said to wait. But waiting with a poorly functioning heart left Lydia susceptible to illness, and she was admitted to the hospital after catching pneumonia. Unable to gain weight and strength while battling pneumonia, Lydia remained too tiny for surgery.
For five months, Lydia was in and out of the hospital with pneumonia. During her most recent stay, Lydia’s lungs had improved, her cough was gone, but there was still a persistent fever. We wondered if there could be an underlying infection and hoped that the antibiotics she was on would clear it all up. But Lydia’s fever remained.
After nearly a month of hospitalization, we asked a doctor who specialized in anal atresia to take a look at our little Lydia, who was remaining stable in PICU, but unable to shake her fever. The doctor examined her, and suggested that he do the final repair on her anus. The initial emergency surgery had not been done very well, and the doctor wondered if maybe that could be part of her problem. Surgery was scheduled for the next week.
It was Tuesday, May 22, that Lydia went in for surgery. Three hours after she went into the operating room, the doors flew open and Lydia raced past on a stretcher. There were tubes and wires everywhere. The doctors were bagging her and everyone was running as they transferred her from surgery to ICU.
We waited expectant, and a bit nervous, to hear the doctor’s news. We wondered what had happened, and if Lydia was going to be ok.
The surgeon’s report was astounding. During Lydia’s emergency surgery back in December, an anus was created and attached to her intestine. The repair was not done well and had been leaking. Excrement had been slowly trickling back into her abdomen, creating the perfect conditions for many, many deadly infections. No wonder she had always been running a low fever… it was a miracle she was alive at all.
Under the surgeon’s skillful hands, Lydia’s intestine was examined and found to be too damaged to repair. The damaged part would need to be removed, cut off, and then her intestine would be sewn back together. Lydia’s intestine was too enlarged at that time for the repair to be done. If the surgeon had made the necessary cuts, the two pieces would not have fit back together. So, he decided to wait, to allow her intestine to recover and return to its normal size. For this to happen, her damaged part of her intestines would have to remain outside of her body for two weeks until the final repair could be done.
17 days later Lydia had her final anal atresia repair. She made it through with flying colors and is now ready to gain weight and strength in preparation for heart surgery somewhere down the road.
She shouldn’t be alive today, but she is. Research and conversations with medical practitioners have confirmed that for Lydia to survive 5 months with the kind of damage she had in her intestine is medically impossible. But here she is today, recovering and alive... nothing short of a beautiful miracle.
The phone rang on a Friday. Words were rushed but the meaning was clear: He was three months old, abandoned at birth. The orphanage begged us to help him. None of the hospitals in their area could help, and six organizations they asked for help were unwilling to try. How could we say no?
It just so happened that the top surgeon of FuWai hospital was coming to visit the next day. He was gracious enough to review Michael’s file, and gravely told us that if Michael was cyanotic – if his skin was blue – he would need surgery right away.
Michael was very cyanotic.
Chinese New Year was fast approaching and the orphanage was having a very difficult time finding an airplane ticket to get Michael to Beijing. We didn’t think that he would even have a chance on the overnight train, but that turned out to be the only option. It was a miracle that Michael’s orphanage was able to purchase a ticket for him, and we met him at the station where oxygen was immediately administered. Then, Michael was rushed to the hospital to do preliminary tests before things shut down for Chinese New Year.
At the hospital it was determined he had pulmonary artery artresia, VSD and PDA, but was a candidate for heart surgery. Michael’s condition was too unstable for him to remain at New Day during the holiday, his oxygen count was in the 50’s and 60’s and he struggled with each breath. Michael was admitted into PICU where he was kept on oxygen and placed on life-sustaining medications.
Monday, after Chinese New Year was over, we transferred Michael to Fu Wai heart hospital for additional tests and hopefully surgery. Michael had to be kept sedated during the transfer because he was constantly distressed, which caused him to have great trouble breathing. Michael and one of our skilled nannies stayed in the hospital. His nanny was not been able sleep at night for three nights, and was constantly calling for the nurses because of how unstable Michael was. Michael had to be held constantly. We prayed that his surgery would be scheduled soon.
On Friday, February 3rd, we got a call first thing in the morning that Michael needed to have emergency surgery right away. He had been crying and struggling to breathe so much that for the past 24 hours he had been on medication to keep him calm. We rushed to the hospital to sign the papers and meet with the surgeon. It was risky, because of Michael’s weak state. They were concerned that he would not survive the surgery.
But miracles never cease to happen. The complex surgery only took three hours. The surgeon was very happy with how it went, but all were concerned about the next 12 hours. The possibility of blood clotting and clogging Michael’s shunt was high. The next day, though, no bad news came. Michael was taken off of the ventilator Saturday night, just a day after his incredibly dangerous surgery. His oxygen stats were running in the 80’s and it seemed that the worst was over.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012, we got a call that Michael had been released to the regular floor. We knew that we were watching a miracle unfold, and could not wait to welcome our little fighter home.
Friday, exactly one week after Michael went into the operating room for emergency surgery – a desperate attempt to save his life – Michael was released from the hospital. He still has another surgery ahead of him, but for the first time in his life, Michael will not be living in a hospital fighting for his life. Instead of beeping monitors he will be surrounded by laughter and joy. What once was a life that seemed impossible to save, Michael is now a living, breathing, testimony that miracles still happen.
Lily’s orphanage was desperate. She had a serious heart disease, so complex that no hospitals in her city could treat it. They contacted us, asking if we could do something – anything. Lily arrived at New Day on the 24th of June, 2011. Her fingers and toes were cyanotic and her oxygen was in the low 70’s.
The list of Lily’s heart defects was scary. We took her information to the cardiac hospitals we work with, and further tests determined that surgery would be possible.
Lily never seemed to be without a cough, so it wasn’t until January 11, 2012, that she went in for surgery. There were many risks, the doctors told us. This surgery was difficult and might take a long time, despite the fact that the top surgeon was going to be performing it.
Three and a half hours after Lily went into surgery, the surgeon wanted to talk with us.
It was done. Lily was out of surgery. In the words of one of the surgeons, Lily had “A perfect operation!” The doctors couldn’t stop smiling, nor could we.
The next day Lily was taken off of the ventilator. She returned home on January 20th, just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.
It only took one look at Wendy for us to realize that this little girl was a much more serious case than we had anticipated. On top of having a very sick heart, Wendy also had a very broken heart. Abandoned on her fourth birthday, just two months before she arrived at NDFH, we knew that there were deep, fresh scars on Wendy’s heart.
Testing showed that Wendy had a very severe heart condition: TGA, ASD, VSD and dangerously high pulmonary hypertension. Because of her age, Wendy was at high risk for sudden death after surgery. But without surgery there was no chance of survival.
Day by day we saw changes in Wendy. She learned how to smile, how to laugh and how to trust. Medically she was weakening, but emotionally she was gaining strength. Sad and scared was slowly being replaced by bright and happy.
On the 16th of December, 2011, Wendy had heart surgery. It took six and a half hours and was a success. The surgeon, the top surgeon of that hospital, was able to do a complete repair.
Wendy’s pulmonary hypertension was still very high. At any moment we knew that she could go into heart failure, so we braced ourselves for a long and scary recovery.
The next day Wendy was taken off of the ventilator. Two days later she was transferred out of ICU and ten days after surgery Wendy was released from the hospital. Risks continued to be great so Wendy was kept in isolation for a few weeks. But she was recovering well and did not have to stay there. Now she runs and happily plays with all of the other children.
Wendy has gained strength, and there’s a new spark in her eyes now. It’s the spark of a life reborn.
She joined her forever family in 2006. Allie had lived with us for a year, and when she met her forever family for the first time, instead of being nervous about leaving, she went for her shoes and said, “Let’s go now!” Allie’s personality, and her love to sing and to perform, fit in perfectly with her new family. She was the puzzle piece that, missing for a short time, had been found and was now flawlessly in place.
Allie’s story at New Day Foster Home should have ended on September 17, 2006, but it didn’t. Allie and her family stayed connected with New Day throughout the following years, and in 2011, not yet nine years old, Allie decided to do something big.
She had orphans on her heart. Having been an orphan herself, Allie’s heart-dream was fueled by her personal experience that love can make a difference. So, she decided to speak at small churches and fellowships, to see if that heart-dream could become a reality.
Allie developed a presentation. Then, she and some of her friends drew handmade cards writing, “Pray for the children.” with New Day’s website included at the bottom.
Nervous, Allie mounted the stage in May, 2011. Standing before a small crowd of about 20 church parishioners, Allie told her story. When she was done, her dad and brother played some music.
Hearts were touched, and our little nine year-old graduate raised nearly $300 for her friends back in China.
Four more engagements later, and Allie had raised over $4,000.
She’s got a story to tell and the skills needed to share it. Allie is going to make a difference, already she has helped to save lives. We, along with her parents, are so proud of Allie’s accomplishments. Her story began as a tragedy – orphaned, with a cleft palate. Today, however, it’s a story of victory. And yet another amazing story of Hope.
He didn’t even have a name, that first night as he fought for his life. There was nothing to set him apart from the other children, except for the fact that he was dying and they were about to run out of options. He’s still fighting for his life today, but the last month has been filled with miraculous hope for this little boy.
On November 10th, Marshall was brought by a policeman to the orphanage. As the staff examined him they found an infected surgical incision, leaking puss and excrement. It was swollen and inflamed, so they rushed him to the hospital. Four hospitals later, none of them able to do anything, the orphanage staff was about to give up, so they called us at New Day South.
The management at New Day South had just made the decision not to bring in any more children for the time being. They were struggling, and though there was space for more than six children, there just weren’t enough resources. So when the plea on Marshall’s behalf came in, it was a hard choice. His chances were slim; he probably wouldn’t survive the night. Could NDS emotionally and financially afford his case?
But how could we give up on him? How could we not give this little child a chance? We said yes. And then someone stepped forward with money to change a child’s life.
The next day Marshall was driven to Guangzhou, arriving at 7pm. At 10:30pm Marshall was admitted into surgery, where he was diagnosed with previously repaired intestinal atresia. But after his first surgery, the suture parts of Marshall’s intestine had not healed, leading to peritonis. Subsequent infections lead to even more problems. Marshall was in a critical condition. Despite the severe infections, he was not running a fever, a sign that his organs might be shutting down. The surgeon ended up removing a section of Marshall’s intestine and he was stable in PICU by about 3am that night.
Four days later, the news was good- miraculously good. Marshall was still stable, his kidneys were functioning well and his heart and lungs were good. But his abdomen was still distended and he had not yet had a bowel movement. One other concern was that, because a good portion of Marshall’s intestines had been removed, he might be unable to absorb nutrients and would be malnourished. He was running a fever, which was cause for rejoicing and worry. His organs were no longer shutting down… but there was still serious infection. We prayed, and a few days later the news again amazed us.
On November 21, Marshall was doing well. Not only had the infection decreased 80% and his previously hard stomach turned soft, but he had a bowel movement. When we heard the report we danced with joy. It seemed funny to be celebrating a bowel movement, but that was huge. It meant that Marshall’s intestines had begun to function.
Marshall continued to be fed intravenously for another week, until December 2, when they began to feed him formula with a bottle. His stomach tube was removed and the doctors began to plan for his discharge.
On December 15, 2011 Marshall came home to New Day South. His condition, though significantly improved, is still quite serious. Marshall is severely malnourished and will need another miracle. But in his life, for the little boy who once had no name, there have been many amazing miracles. Marshall’s Chinese name means “Grand” and “Powerful”. It’s been so obvious that a Grand and Powerful God has been caring for Marshall all the time, and we have HOPE that Marshall’s story will continue to echo the power of His Heavenly Father.
To Be Continued…
As news spread about Claire’s situation, the look in everyone’s eyes was the same. Though no one verbalized it, everyone wondered if she’d make it through the night. It didn’t look hopeful… Doctors from the hospital called late one evening, asking us to come as soon as possible. They thought that Claire would die soon and wanted us present to sign approval papers for an emergency surgery—a last-ditch effort to save her life.
After surgery to drain an infection in her lung, Claire lost a lot of blood. In the first 6 days after surgery, she lost nearly 200 ml of blood each day. On the seventh day, she lost over 300 ml, and on the eighth day, she lost 500 ml. She was loosing blood faster than the doctors could give her transfusions. For a child, to lose 500 ml of blood in one day is to lose nearly one-third of their total blood supply. During the entire time, Claire received blood transfusions, but by the eight day, her doctor estimated that nearly two-thirds of her total blood supply was not her own.
After receiving the news, we took a few minutes to ask people to pray, and then we left for the hospital, praying she’d still be alive when we arrived. Though we’ve seen God’s faithful and healing hands work in many of our children’s lives in many circumstances in the past, we couldn’t help but wonder if this time would be different. It seemed impossible. The blood loss was so significant that even the doctors told us she probably wouldn’t survive. Our nanny, who was by Claire’s bedside the whole time, told us that Claire was drifting in and out of consciousness.
The blood loss wasn’t the only bad news. After draining the infection, the doctors discovered that the infection had been so severe that it killed the lung tissue. They told us she would loose her lung, reducing her lung capacity by 50 percent. And, they discovered that she had a small tear in her esophagus which allowed stomach acids to leak into her chest cavity – wreaking havoc on her organs and causing more damage to her lungs. Finally, she was diagnosed with a severe heart defect… something no one had known previously.
It seemed hopeless.
Circumstances often speak louder than His whispers. Claire’s circumstances looked grim, and while we hoped against hope for a miracle, we tried to prepare our hearts for the loss of a child. But in the middle of the noise, His voice calls out, asking us to surrender our fears and trust Him. The whisper is always faint at first, but it grows louder and more persistent… a call to trust in His mercy and believe in His goodness.
When we arrived at the hospital, doctors met us with surprising news. The bleeding had stopped. Less than two hours before, they had called us because the bleeding showed no signs of stopping after eight days of continuous loss. We were amazed, and suddenly aware that His whispers were the loudest voice of all. His voice silenced our doubts and reminded us that He is the father to the fatherless. As His people all over the world lifted up Claire, He did something beautiful. He healed her. The doctors asked us to sign a statement acknowledging that at any moment, her condition could take a turn for the worse and she might die. They also asked us to sign papers to permit a surgery to discover the source of the bleeding which they’d scheduled for the next morning, but would do immediately if the bleeding started again.
Though we were rejoicing in the miracle we’d just witnessed, we were nervous about the night ahead. Would the bleeding start again? Would they need to go into surgery in the middle of the night? We went home to try and get a few hours of sleep before we returned to the hospital the following morning, and as the hours of the night stretched into morning, we prayed that God would continue working in Claire’s body. When we arrived at the hospital the next morning, the surgeons told us that they were so happy with Claire’s progress that they thought there was no longer any need for a surgery. They told us that unless the bleeding started again, they would not operate.
Not only did Claire have no further bleeding, but in the following days, the doctors discovered that her lung tissue looked healthier than they ever dreamed possible. Instead of losing 50 percent of her lung capacity, they informed us that she would probably only lose 15 percent! And, when we had a consultation with a new surgeon regarding the perforation in her esophagus, he gave us a much more hopeful prognosis and outlined a relatively straightforward surgical procedure that he could do to fix the problem.
Now Claire is sitting up and playing in her hospital bed. Thanks to some intravenous nutrition she has received, she’s feeling healthier and stronger without aggravating her esophageal problem. The doctors have been amazed at her recovery, and when we told her home orphanage about her healing, their amazed response was, “She made it again?” Claire still needs some more miracles – we’re hoping to see continued improvement in her lung capacity and a completely repaired esophagus. Once those problems have been addressed and she’s stronger, we’ll be able to treat her very serious heart condition. We know that she still has a long road ahead, but with God as her defender, we trust she will win the future battles until she can run and play with the other children with all of this but a distant memory.
So we write this to remember His faithfulness, His mercy, and His love. When we’re faced with another situation where the circumstances speak desperation and hopelessness, we’ll remember the night that God reached down and touched Claire. We will listen for His voice… quietly and calmly whispering amidst the storm.
Updated: September 15, 2009
Things didn’t go according to plan.
When we asked if they could simply patch the hole, the doctors told us that the damage to Claire’s esophagus was too severe. They expected to find a significant amount of damaged tissue surrounding the hole in her esophagus from months of food and stomach acids seeping out of the hole. The only question remaining for her surgical team was how much of the esophagus would need to be removed?
They planned to cut out the damaged part of her esophagus and patch the two healthy sections together. They warned that if a large section were damaged, they would need to remove it all, and she’d live with life-long repercussions. It would be difficult for her to keep food down, and she’d always struggle with severe indigestion.
We began praying that they’d only need to remove a small section of the esophagus. But we also prayed that the doctors would be amazed with what they found.
On the morning of the surgery, they told us it would take at least 6 hours to complete the repair. So when her surgeons came out of the operating room, with beaming smiles and a sense of wonderment in their eyes, we knew we were in for a good surprise.
They found the hole. They hadn't thought it would be possible to locate the exact location of the original damage.
The tissue surrounding the hole wasn’t damaged at all; it was strong and healthy. It showed no signs of exposure to months of stomach acid or the expected consequences of months of an unrepaired injury.
It was perfectly fine. A divine healer had been at work before they ever began the operation, and all they needed to do was patch up one small hole. The surgery only took 4 hours, and her doctors expect her to make a full recovery. Though Claire's miraculous story isn't quite finished yet -- she needs an operation for TGA, a heart condition -- on this day, our prayers were answered and the doctors were amazed.
And so were we… once again, God showed himself mighty in a Beijing operating room. He never forgets when one of his children needs His help. He is a God who does miracles and shows His power among the nations. Psalm 77:14
October 12, 2010
After a year of recuperation, doctors were ready to perform Claire's second surgery; a surgery to remove aberrant blood vessels that had sequestered the lower part of her right lung and hopefully to remove her chest tube that had been draining residual infection for the last year. We knew the second surgery was risky, as Claire clearly had a history of excessive bleeding, but doctors felt the time was right to operate. Her surgery went well, but the next day the hospital called saying that Claire was bleeding and they needed to do an emergency surgery. They needed to transfer her to a different hospital to operate, and during the transfer she coded. They were able to restart her heart and intubate her, but by the time she arrived at the other hospital, doctors determined she was too unstable to operate. Several hours later, though, they saw their window of opportunity and jumped at it. After the surgery, the doctors reported that there was not a single major vessel bleeding; the whole area, with many small vessels, was bleeding. They tried to cauterize the area, but it did not work, so they cover it with surgical adhesive. It slowed slightly, but she was still bleeding and they said they were out of options. If the bleeding stopped on its own, Claire had a chance to survive. If it did not, she would die. After being transferred to the high-level PICU at the other hospital, her lead surgeon said that the bleeding had slowed even more but that the next 24 hours would be the most critical.
The next morning, we checked with the PICU staff and they said that most of the night was uneventful, but that at 5:00 in the morning, the bleeding had suddenly increased again and Claire's doctors discovered that some clots had built up, hindering drainage from the chest tube. An hour later, the bleeding slowed but her heart rate was fast. Her doctors continued to say there was nothing more they could do… if bleeding picked back up, they were out of possible solutions. Over the next few days, Claire's bleeding continued to slow on its own, but the clots remained. Doctors planned an operation to remove the clots, but shortly before they were set to begin, they did another check and found the clots were gone!
Claire was past the worst. Within a few days, she was transferred out of ICU and taken off all the various tubes and wires that had been sustaining her life. The final thing to be removed was the ventilator, and when she came off that, the first thing she asked was if she could eat and color pictures! It seems we have our little Claire back… with more amazing miracles sustaining and transforming her life.
January 31, 2011
She's coming home! We're getting our happy ending.
After stabilizing following her surgery in October, Claire took a sudden turn for the worse. A course of antibiotics didn't help, and Claire's health deteriorated. Fluid began building around her left lung, and she went into heart failure. Her blood pressure, oxygen levels and lung pressure were not good. She was not producing enough urine, and her doctors suspected a fungal infection in her lungs. They called us in for a meeting on December 17, 2010 and told us they didn't know what else to do.
We asked people all over the world to pray, and people united on behalf of Claire. Though she didn't begin improving right away, she did stabilize. Her doctors placed her on a $60-USD-a-day anti-fungal medication to treat the underlying problem, and we waited for her situation to improve.
Claire's supervising doctor was the surgeon who performed her operation in October. Realizing that Claire's situation could no longer be helped by surgery, he called a meeting with other doctors at the hospital… experts in blood, skin, heart, respiration, and other internal medicine specialists. On December 24, 2010, this panel of experts gathered together to discuss which department should take on her case. As each doctor heard what had already been done for Claire, considered her situation and potential courses of treatments, all the doctors said it was outside of their expertise and that there was nothing more they could do. They suggested some tests to run and potential medications that could help, but each of them told the surgeon that they couldn't accept the transfer of her case as they didn't have any potentially successful courses of treatment to pursue.
We left that meeting feeling discouraged and overwhelmed -- having been given very little hope by the doctors. Once again we asked everyone to pray and once again Claire had a turnaround. By December 28, 2010 her urine output improved, swelling went down, and her blood pressure stabilized. Though her lung function hadn't yet improved, her doctors were thrilled to tell us she was doing better generally. Things continued to improve… by January 17, 2011 her lung function improved enough that they decided to remove her chest tube! After having it for over one year, Claire was finally free. And after monitoring her health for a couple more weeks, Claire returned home on January 31, 2011 -- a few short days before Chinese New Year, a time when all Chinese come home.
November 11, 2011
“No surgery necessary.”
When we heard the doctor’s words we were shocked. Claire, our miracle-girl, the one who had come close to death so many times, would not need heart surgery.
Claire’s heart was diagnosed with TGA (transposition of the greater arteries) six days after she arrived, May 2009. Because of Claire’s overall medical condition at that time, the heart repair could not be done until she had undergone surgery for her tracheal esophageal fistula and severely damaged lungs. Her diagnosis would have been fatal 20 years ago, but could have been repaired successfully in an infant. But Claire was no infant. She was a beautiful seven year-old girl whose lungs were still recovering, and the time had come for us to find out if Claire was ready for open heart surgery.
The surgery would have been long and hard, and because of our past experiences with Claire and post-op, we were scared. We prayed for her every day; we prayed that her lungs would be strengthened and that her heart would be healed. Despite our earnest prayers for a miracle on her behalf, we couldn’t believe what we heard.
“Her heart is just fine.”
Just the word, “transposition” infers that something is going the wrong way. Now, hearing that Claire’s heart is functioning properly, without any sort of medical intervention, we are amazed. On May 4, 2011, two years after that first diagnosis, Claire’s heart was working normally. No TGA could be found.
Someone very powerful was taking care of Claire when the doctors said that she wouldn’t survive the night, and when they told us that they were out of options to slow the bleeding that was slowly draining the life from our precious little girl. Someone was looking out for her when she coded, still bleeding profusely with unresponsive vital signs. And that same “Someone” has chosen Claire to receive one of the most incredible miracles of all-time: a physically healed and whole heart. We can pour love into the children and help their emotional hearts heal, but our love flows from the One who both physically and spiritually heals. Claire’s story is so exciting to tell, because it is so incredibly amazing.
Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
But we didn’t know this.
Our hearts were still aching over the loss of Paige, and our medical recourses were being strained with the care of Carissa. We needed a lighter case, so we brought in Joseph. Supposedly his heart was of medium severity, but when our doctor checked him she looked grave. “He is much more serious than we thought.”
Joseph was struggling with a severe case of pneumonia when he arrived, so we took him to the hospital the next day. The doctors told us that it was “a miracle” he was still alive. Without immediate care and surgery, Joseph would not make it.
Unfortunately, the national holiday was just beginning. It would be a week until the top surgeons could operate on Joseph, and he needed the best. Our only hope was that Joseph would survive the holiday until surgery could happen.
Joseph made it through the week. He was scheduled for one of the first surgeries after the holiday and they operated first thing Monday morning. The very complex surgery lasted four hours and was successful. After the surgery our directors, who were there the whole time, returned to New Day. Not five minutes after they returned, they received a call. Joseph’s oxygen and heart rate was dropping rapidly. He needed to go back into surgery… we jumped back into the car and raced to the hospital again. Because of our good relationship with this hospital, they didn’t wait until we had arrived before they took him into surgery. This alone was a life saving decision.
Joseph’s shunt had become blocked and he essentially needed to have his surgery re-done. Another four hours later, Joseph was out of surgery and stable in ICU.
Two weeks later he was ready for his second surgery. This time the surgeons would be exchanging the main arteries. It was a complex surgery and took five hours, but was successful.
Already Joseph’s story was miraculous. When we heard for the first time how serious his case was, we were a bit nervous… he should have been an easy case. But now we know that if he had not come to New Day when he did, he would not have survived.
Not 24 hours after Joseph’s second surgery, he was taken off of the ventilator. The next day he was transferred from ICU into mid-care, and a few days later he was sent to the regular ward. And then, on October 31, 2011, Joseph was released from the hospital.
God knew that Joseph needed us when he did, and God kept Joseph alive until we could help him. Now Joseph is home and healthy. He’s been through a lot during the first two and a half months of his life, but in a sense, his story has just begun.
In February and March of 2011 we welcomed two precious little girls into the Foster Home. Sage was almost five months old and had been diagnosed with a cleft lip and two septal defects in her heart. Kendra was nearly two months old with a septal defect and PFO. The girls were tiny when they arrived. They were pale and weak and every bit of love they received was soaked up like a sponge.
Beginning the day they arrived, they were held and loved. We smothered them in cuddles, songs and prayers. Soon they began to grow. Once a fragile baby, Kendra began gaining weight and soon had plump cheeks. Sage started smiling and her grin, wide and joyful, lit up the room. We watched with joy as both little girls grew stronger and lovelier, their personalities becoming more and more evident with each passing week.
Then the time came that their health was to be evaluated. We prayed earnestly that they would be considered healthy enough for heart surgery. The news we received after their appointments was not what we had expected at all. We learned Sage’s results first. The two defects in her heart were no longer there. She was healthy, healed, and whole. Except for a repair to her cleft lip, Sage would not need surgery.
As we rejoiced for Sage we heard the results from Kendra’s doctor. There was no longer a septal defect and her PFO was so mild that she would probably not need surgery. It was another miracle. Miraculously, all three septal defects were closed and neither girl would need open heart surgery. Love truly does make a difference.
Since no one thought she could see well enough to make good use of the limited supplies, Serena was never allowed to color or draw or use pen and paper in her foster family. It wasn't limited to coloring... time after time, she was never given an opportunity to achieve the most basic developmental tasks.
As a result, when she came to live at NDFH when she was 10 years old, she tested as a 3-4 year old developmentally. The first time we gave her colors and a blank sheet of paper, she held one crayon in her hand and scribbled roughly over the entire sheet of paper. She filled page after page with single-colored scribbles, never attempting to draw anything or alternating colors.
Serena knew she was behind, but instead of understanding it was because she’d never had a chance, she had internalized her lack of progress into a belief that she wasn’t smart, wasn’t good enough, and could never accomplish anything. She arrived with rock-bottom self-esteem, believing that she would never be able to do anything due to her vision problems. She didn’t have any hope for the future, and would often talk about how she was a “bad girl.” Her eyesight is very poor. She didn’t have properly diagnosed glasses, so when she arrived she constantly had bruises on her legs from bumping into things. She would run into people, doors, and anything in her path.
But Love worked it’s miracle on Serena…the same amazing Love that changes so many of our children’s lives.
We obtained a proper prescription for Serena’s glasses, and before long, she was riding a bike for the first time in her life, pointing out the birds and the planes in the sky, and improving her gross motor skills so rapidly that we could hardly believe our eyes. Her eyesight is still poor, and glasses only partially correct the problem, but Serena has compensated to the point that most people would never realize the degree to which Serena struggles to see. She no longer bumps into people or objects, and her legs are only blemished by the occasional normal childhood bumps or bruises.
We hired a tutor for Serena, and though at first she strongly resisted class because she thought she was “stupid,” Serena is now starting to see the progress she is making and is excited about learning more. In a few months, she went from scribbles to coloring pictures to learning to draw basic shapes to writing her letters and numbers. She is starting to study Chinese characters. She is now working on a 5-6 year old level, completing 3-4 years of goals in 4 months!!
We could go on and on describing Serena’s progress: She can walk on a balance beam, run towards and kick a ball, sort similar and dissimilar objects, adeptly use scissors, take part in reading books by “filling in” words and phrases, and classify things like animals, foods, dishes, people and pets. She also now knows all of her colors. She can now recognize the difference between the 1 yuan bill and the 100 yuan bill, and she is also learning to count to 20 and has nearly mastered that task.
Perhaps the most astounding transformation has been the one we’ve seen happen in her heart. This little girl who never had any hope for her future wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She is so much more confident in who she is and what she can do; she finally sees her own potential. She has learned that with hard work, she can achieve her goals – and she’s starting to set more and more of them! She loves music and sings all the time; it seems she finally has joy… she finally has something to sing about.
A Miracle at New Day- a Doctor’s Perspective
As a physician, I have spent years learning and studying the human body. I was taught that all diseases and healing can be explained scientifically. There was little room for miracles. But this all changed in September 2010 when I met Ajay.
When I first decided to volunteer at New Day, I thought it was going to be more of an educational trip for me. I was prepared to serve by providing some teaching sessions and assisting the staff on some cases. But I was not prepared to meet a miracle in a child named Ajay. On my 2nd day in clinic, I reviewed his file. His problem list consisted of multiple cardiac abnormalities. I tried logically to figure out his anatomy. After a couple of minutes, I realized that his heart was so badly malformed that it would be near impossible to repair. More shocking was the fact that he was 2 years old and alive! I couldn’t medically explain how a child with such an abnormal heart was alive, let alone sitting in the playroom smiling and reading a book!
After 10 years of practicing pediatrics, I have seen lots of interesting and amazing things. But nothing like Ajay. My scientific mind tells me that he shouldn’t have made it past the newborn period. The fact that he is still alive is a testament that medicine and humans are limited and we should never lose our faith in miracles.
Shirley J. Leong, M.D.
At only 4-months-old and about 7 pounds, Caleb arrived on June 30, 2010 at New Day suffering from both pneumonia and bronchitis. His greatest need, however, resided in his heart. Caleb was born with a serious heart condition that included a double outlet in the right ventricle, TGA, VSD, PDA, and hypertension in the pulmonary artery and narrow aorta. He was desperately in need of corrective heart surgery and he had battled pneumonia for several months.
About ten days later, Caleb was transferred to a hospital’s PICU because he had difficulty breathing due to his heart condition and pneumonia. He was soon put on a ventilator to help him breathe. When the hospital considered him too weak for surgery, New Day transferred him to another hospital willing to do surgery on him.
The director of surgeons there had done surgery on a patient similar to Caleb; Caleb’s case, however, was far more complicated. The surgeon said that only 100 cases of Caleb’s condition have ever been reported around the world, and though it would be better to wait until he was stronger, they had no choice but to operate as soon as possible. The surgery took place on August 4, 2010 and lasted 14 hours, with most of the re-structuring work completed around the 10-hour mark. Caleb bled continuously afterwards, but after four hours, doctors finally got the bleeding to stop and he went to PICU for recovery.
Since then, Caleb’s healing process has been incredible. His surgeon said that Caleb recovered faster than all the other heart surgery babies in the ward with him--though Caleb’s surgery was far more complicated than the others. The doctor also indicated that if they had not operated on him at that time, Caleb would probably have lived for only two more days. After being released from PICU less than two weeks after surgery, he is on the road to a full recovery and a healthy life.
January 5, 2010
Cora wasn’t getting any better.
For seven months, she needed daily nebulizer treatment to treat her congested lungs. Though she didn’t have pneumonia or bronchitis all the time, her breathing always sounded as if she did. Thick and rattling, her lungs wouldn’t clear no matter what we did. On her good days, she needed only nebulizers. On her bad days, we were fighting to keep her from going into the hospital with pneumonia.
Her cardiologists kept advising us to wait. “We can’t do heart surgery with her lungs in such bad condition,” they’d say. Finally they did an angiogram, but told us they needed to wait to operate until her lungs improved more. But two months passed from her angiogram, and they saw absolutely no improvement in her lung condition.
They knew she couldn’t wait much longer.
With the winter cold, flu, and pneumonia season arriving, they told us that if she got sick with a simple respiratory illness, she probably wouldn’t survive. In Cora’s beautiful and perfectly formed little body, she had a fragile heart, wrought with 8 separate heart defects ranging from common to complex. So many factors pointed towards the danger of operating… her small size, her poor lung condition, the high pulmonary artery pressure and hypertension that medicine just never seemed to correct.
When the morning for her tentatively-scheduled surgery dawned, we sat down with the surgical team to discuss the operation. It is a routine meeting we attend before every operation with the doctors and surgical team. But this morning was different. The director of surgery and the vice-director also joined us for the meeting. They had reviewed the case and wanted to make sure we understood the risks.
“This is a gamble,” they told us. “She won’t survive without surgery, but she has a slim chance of recovering from the operation.”
Our hearts sank. We knew her heart condition was serious, but we didn’t anticipate such a bleak prognosis.
“The operation she needs is not too complex for our team. It is difficult, but within our technical expertise,” they explained. “But as Cora fights to recover from the surgery, her body is going to have a difficult time adjusting to the new blood circulation patterns. Also her lungs are very congested, and that will impact her post-op recovery. We expect that she’ll be on a ventilator for a very long time after the surgery. You have to know that this is an extremely risky operation. If we thought her physical condition would improve, we would advise waiting. But over the last 7 months we have seen no improvement, and we really feel like an operation at this point is a last-ditch effort to save her life.”
When we looked at the smiling, happy, bubbly little girl, it was hard to imagine that death lurked so close. She seemed so vibrant, so full of life – so healthy even! It was easy to forget that she was even sick, except when the palm of your hand rested against her chest, and you felt the odd flutter of her heart under your fingertips.
Choosing to send a vivacious and giggling little child into an operating room when you know she might never come out is a decision no one has the strength to make on her own. But we have seen His good deeds in the past, and we know in the deepest parts of our being that His heart is for the fatherless. So we took a deep breath and whispered a prayer. “She’s yours. We love her, and we’re so thankful for the time You’ve given us with her. We know You alone can heal her heart, and we trust that You can use this as a testimony to many.”
And we signed the surgery papers.
Six and a half hours later, on December 15, 2009, the operation was complete. The doctors told us that though they had a little trouble stopping some bleeding, they were very pleased with the results of the surgery. But we knew little Cora’s journey was really just beginning. All along, the post-op period was the most risky part of her operation. So we settled in for the hardest part of this journey… waiting.
The giggling and vibrant little girl lay still under a maze of tubes and wires. Monitors beeping softly and machines humming gently... The ventilator kept oxygen supplied to her battered little body. We waited and we prayed. We know we were joined by many around the world, lifting this little girl up and trusting that her Father was hiding her under His wing, knitting her back together again.
On December 18th, 3 days after her operation, her medical team gave us news that nearly left them speechless. Cora was off the ventilator. There was no medical explanation for her progress and rapid healing. So they offered only one: “You are a Godly people. God hears your prayers,” said the senior cardiology nurse when she gave us the news.
Cora continued to amaze the pediatric cardiothoracic team, as she was moved to a regular ward on December 21st, only 6 days after her surgery. And on Christmas Day, all of her doctors and PICU nurses came to her hospital room to say goodbye. Each of them wanted to see this little miracle baby one more time before she left. In a place where they often must give horrible news to traumatized parents and watch little ones suffer and die, they each wanted to be a little closer to this sign of hope. Our prayers were answered. Her adorable giggle and sparkling smile were a testimony to many.
He came to give us life and life abundantly. Born into a manger two millennia ago, His message of hope, redemption, and transformation is still alive and real today. We know, because we see it in a little girl named Cora; a little girl who needed His touch and received it; a little girl who now has life… abundant, beautiful life.
How fitting that she came home on His birthday with a restored life, the greatest gift of all.
December 1, 2009
We are thankful Melody’s surgery went far better than the doctors expected -- another miracle! Before the surgery, they were concerned the growth (Meningocele) on her neck involved some of her nerves, and that after surgery she could potentially lose control of body functions. It turned out that no nerves were involved -- it was simply tissue that they removed and stitched shut. Another pre-surgery concern was that they would need to place a metal plate at the base of her skull to cover up the opening left from the meningocele. This was not needed and Melody is now at home; a healthy and happy little girl.
In December 2008, six-month-old Debra arrived at New Day. She was born with a congenital heart disease and needed surgery. About two weeks after she arrived, nannies called our management staff in the evening. Debra was having trouble breathing and couldn＊t stop crying. We instructed the nannies to give her oxygen and see if her condition would improve. After a couple of hours on oxygen, she had not improved. At midnight, we took her to the hospital where she was admitted for heart failure.
Little Debra fought for her life, and after about a week of hospitalization, she stabilized enough to return to New Day. We scheduled her heart surgery for the first week in February. The day of her surgery, doctors told us that Debra＊s pulmonary artery was narrowing 每 correcting it would involve a very complicated surgery that was expected to take at least six to nine hours. Prepared to spend the whole day in the waiting room, we were surprised and excited when the surgeon came out to talk with us less than three hours from when he began the surgery. He explained that a ligament had been attached to her pulmonary artery, causing it to kink and limit the blood flow. As soon as he cut the ligament, her blood began flowing normally. The operation turned out to be much simpler than he was expecting, and Debra was doing wonderfully.
Soon after her surgery, we were able to go into ICU to see her; her color was already much better. And since that time, her condition has only continued to improve.
When we first met little Evan, he broke our hearts. He was so thin and weak, he didn＊t have the strength to sit on his own or even turn his head. At nearly 3 years old, he weighed only 10 pounds. But more painful than that, his face was expressionless 每 it seemed he had given up the will to live.
In his hometown, Evan had lived both in the orphanage and with a foster family. But for unexplainable reasons, he just couldn＊t gain weight. He had a lot of difficulty eating, and as a result became severely malnourished. His orphanage took him to Shanghai for testing, but nothing could be determined. They called us in desperation, telling us he would not survive if we didn＊t take him. When he arrived, we knew he needed a miracle. We began pouring love into him and feeding him small portions, slowly increasing the amounts over time.
Less than a week after arriving at New Day, Evan gained nearly 5 pounds. Each day, his personality emerged a little more and we watched in amazement as he grew stronger. We cheered when he was able to sit up by himself. We rejoiced at each milestone 每 as he scooted across the playroom in a walker, played catch with us, and then walked with help. In less than a week, he raised himself to a standing position and took his first wobbly steps by himself. Now he can climb and walk just about anywhere he wants to go!
Evan started attending our pre-school, and we are overjoyed to see him continue to grow and develop.
We brought Ruby to New Day just before Christmas 2008. It was during a time when our staff was emotionally exhausted. We already had several children in our care with very critical medical conditions, and two of our babies had passed away in surgery the summer before. We just didn＊t feel ready to bring in another serious case.
As we decided which child should come to New Day, we chose Ruby. She was born with tetrology of fallot, a serious heart condition but one that is also relatively simple to treat. We were expecting a straightforward case. But within hours of her arrival, we rushed Ruby to the hospital 每 she was going into heart failure and fighting for her life. She was put in a medically-induced coma as doctors worked to stabilize her. As soon as she was stabilized, she went in for emergency surgery. The doctors almost never perform these surgeries on a Sunday, but they believed Ruby＊ condition was so critical, they couldn＊t wait another day.
Her surgery went remarkably well and she immediately began to improve.
While she still had a long recovery time in the hospital, it was
clear that Ruby＊ health made a complete turnaround after the
operation. Now she is a happy and energetic little girl who is a
delight to all of us. Though we thought we were bringing in an "easy
case" when we accepted Ruby, we are thankful we received her instead.
For we know that if she had not come to us, she would not be alive
As a baby in our formula project, each month we would visit Gracie. And each month, we would hope to see her gain some weight. But it never happened. Due to her uncorrected heart condition and premature birth, she failed to grow. In her first 6 months, she didn＊t even gain a full pound. Knowing that she wouldn＊t survive if her growth continued to flat-line, we brought her to our Foster Home so that she could receive the medical care she urgently needed.
When she arrived at our Foster Home on October 11, 2008, she weighed 10.5 pounds at 7 months old. In Western countries, it isn＊t uncommon for a baby to weigh at birth what Gracie weighed at 7 months old.
While we knew Gracie would make quick progress, nothing prepared us for how quickly she would improve.
Within her first month and a half at our facility, she gained 2.5 pounds, and her surgery went perfectly. The best way to understand how quickly her health was restored is to look at her growth chart. Children below the bottom red line are considered malnourished, but children following the yellow line are considered average. Though she was dangerously underweight when she arrived, little Gracie＊s line spiked when she entered the foster home. Though it is just a line, it is a crystal-clear picture of hope restored and life given.
Though her heart defect wasn＊t as serious as many we treat, Polly also suffered from pulmonary hypertension, essentially high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. Though it is common for a Down＊s Syndrome baby to have pulmonary hypertension, it made her operation even more dangerous.
Her doctor gave Polly medication in an attempt to lower the pressure enough to operate. While they were able to bring it down enough for surgery, the surgeon told us before operating that there was a significant risk that the pressure wouldn＊t remain low long-term. And, if the pressure increased after the surgery, he feared Polly would not survive. There was nothing more that he could do.
As he began the operation, her pressure dropped to its lowest levels. It remained low when the surgery was completed and she was transferred to the recovery ward. In fact, it never returned to its pre-surgery levels. Since he＊s already seen such a remarkable change in her arterial pressure, her doctor thinks that it will continue to drop until it is at a normal level.
God saw what the passengers in the trains rushing past could never see outside their windows. Lying in a dark, cold ditch beside the tracks and wrapped in a thin cloth with a small note pinned to the front, the baby's piercing cry roused the angels. He was never alone＃ not from the moment hands placed him on the ground and then turned and walked away. God was always near, and the Father who never abandons or forsakes his children orchestrated events in a divine way 每 bringing salvation and life to a little child left for death in a dark, cold ditch.
According to the note pinned to the cloth wrapping up his small body, Judson was born at around noon on July 30, 2008. He was found on July 31 and brought to the orphanage around noon the same day. We'll never know all that happened in Judson's life in his first 24 hours, but the fact that he was found alive in that ditch beside the railroad tracks was the first miracle among many. When the orphanage doctor unwound the cloth, the reason for the child's abandonment grew painfully obvious. His stomach and intestines were exposed, a congenital birth defect called gastroschisis. Judson weighed about 4.5 pounds, but his strong cry told all who stood around that he was a fighter. In addition to the birth defect, Judson suffered from the effects of hypothermia after his first night of life was spent outdoors, unprotected in a high-altitude province where the cold night's breeze reminds all that winter is never far away.
Realizing the severity of the child's case, the orphanage doctor immediately took Judson to the hospital, where he was told that it would be mere hours before Judson would die. But Judson didn't die. On August 1, the orphanage director called our foster home, deciding that if Judson wanted to fight, he deserved a chance. The director asked if we could help; we told him we could, if they could get him to us. Later that afternoon, the hospital staff told the orphanage that Judson was worsening, and that surgery would be a lost cause because he couldn't possibly make it. The orphanage director decided to wait until the next day to see if Judson was still alive. Though none of their treatment or interventions should have worked, Judson was touched by the Divine Healer during the night, and on the morning of August 2, the surprised hospital staff told the orphanage director that Judson was improving, but he needed surgery soon if he was to have a chance. It was a surgery the local hospital couldn't do, so the orphanage called us again, asking if we were prepared to take his case. We told them to bring him to Beijing as quickly as they could. The director's last words to us were, ※Though we don't think he can make it, he deserves a chance.§
When one considers all the needs an orphanage must fill with an incredibly small budget, it is nothing short of a miracle that the orphanage director decided to invest considerable resources in a child who he thought probably wouldn't make it. But, he purchased two airline tickets to Beijing for the same afternoon, sending Judson to the capital with the orphanage's doctor and nurse. Before boarding the plane, however, Judson faced two more hurdles. The airline said that a child under two weeks old couldn't fly, and they would not allow anyone with a stomach tube or catheter to board the plane. In a desperate attempt to give Judson his only chance at survival, the orphanage director created new documents, saying that Judson was two weeks old. And, the hospital removed the stomach tube and catheter, wrapping Judson's abdomen up as best as they could for the journey. Getting on the plane with a newborn infant who very well may not get off the plane alive must have been a terrifying experience for the doctor and nurse responsible for his care, but God's presence was there in that moment＃ calming fears and sustaining life. It seems people can sense the Father's presence around Judson's life, for the flight attendants paid special attention to their youngest passenger. Upon landing early in Beijing, the flight attendants ushered the doctor, nurse, and Judson off the plane first, sending him on his way with a small Olympic bookmark, on which they wrote, ※We hope you recover from this soon and that you lead a very happy life.§
At 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, August 2, our staff was at the gate when they walked off the plane 每 a milestone no one expected Judson to reach. An ambulance was waiting at the airport to take everyone to Beijing Children's Hospital, where the emergency room staff was expecting us to arrive and had an operating room on stand-by. In China, ambulances are not given right-of-way, but the Defender of the Fatherless was clearing a path for this child, and the ambulance had permission to use the newly formed ※Olympic Lanes§ for official Olympic traffic, getting him to the hospital in 20 minutes, when normally it would have taken at least an hour and a half. Rushed into the emergency room, Judson's check-in procedure was expedited, and by 6:00 p.m., Judson was being evaluated by Beijing Children's surgical staff.
Again, the prognosis wasn't good. His tissue had suffered significant damage from hypothermia, and his gastroschisis was more severe than most since it wasn't just his intestines, but also his stomach, that was exposed. The first 2 surgeons who evaluated Judson told us that surgery wasn't going to help; he was going to die no matter what, and to do surgery would be putting him through more trauma and would be a waste of resources. But Judson had come too far for everyone to give up on him, so we persisted and said that as long as he was alive, he had a chance. Realizing we were committed to operating on Judson, the doctors called in the chief surgeon, who gave us an equally bleak prognosis. Ten percent 每 that was Judson's chance of living through the next few days. The surgeon gravely told us that they'd done hundreds of similar surgeries, and they'd never lost a single child. But, he believed Judson would be the first loss, due to the severity of his case and the damage caused by hypothermia. He was willing to try, though, and we told him we wanted to move forward with treatment because we believe our God is a Healer who moves in the 10 percent as well as the 90 percent, and so Judson was prepped for surgery.
At 9:30 on Saturday night, Judson entered surgery, and by 11:15 p.m., he was finished. In addition to treating his gastroschisis, they discovered during surgery that Judson had gastric perforations in two places, which they closed. Overall, the surgery was a success, but only time would tell if Judson could make it. The surgical staff told us the first three days would be the most critical. During that time, he would be most likely to succumb to the effects of hypothermia, and the efficacy of the surgery would become apparent. Sunday afternoon the hospital reported that he was not getting worse and that his status was okay; a positive report overall. By Monday, the hospital told us that though he hadn't obviously improved, he was not getting worse and they thought his condition was good. He made it through the first two days of his three day critical stage, and we fully expect to continue getting good reports.
We know that the Father was in that ditch with Judson, and the reason he didn't die of hypothermia is that he was being held by the One who wants to restore all things. We believe that the reason he made it to our foster home and through surgery is because the Creator was moving on the hearts of all the people in charge; gently prompting their spirits to not give up and reminding them that every life has dignity and purpose. And, we know the reason that he is stable today is because the Great Healer is touching his little body in that isolation unit. Through Judson's new life, we have seen clear examples that God moves mountains and the hearts of men to protect and rescue those He created. It causes us to catch our breath, for we see the mighty hand of God moving in extravagant ways for a child who was believed to be a lost cause, whispering of the day coming when justice prevails and all is made right; when babies aren't discarded and all of creation isn't groaning.
We met Philip in May, 2006, when he was just 3 months old. He had spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Unable to have him transferred to New Day at the time, we were saddened the next year to see that the orphanage had been unable to get him medical assistance locally – the surgery was too complicated for the local hospital – and his conditions had worsened rapidly. The lump on his back from spina bifida was the size of a softball, and his head had grown to 53 cm in circumference, seven centimeters larger than normal.
In May, 2007, Philip was transferred to New Day Foster Home. We arranged for Philip to have surgery right away at one of the hospitals in Beijing, and he had his first surgery Jun 1st. Just three weeks later Philip had a second surgery to place a shunt in his head to drain the fluid from the hydrocephalus. After the surgery the surgeon came to talk to us. He told us that according to an MRI, Philip only had a 2 cm rim of brain tissue remaining around the inside of his skull; the entire center of his brain had been filled with water. According to the doctors, Philip was severely brain damaged.
However, as Philip recuperated from the surgeries, the doctors were amazed to find him alert and responsive. Philip was placed in a foster family soon after being released from the hospital, and we were thrilled to see how he responded to and tried to kiss his foster mother. He was an interactive baby, which should have been impossible! The doctors said that Philip’s case was a miracle, and we certainly agreed.
As Philip grew, we quickly realized that he was not only not brain damaged, but that he was also quite smart! Philip became one of the star students in our preschool class, and picked up English with incredible speed. For five years, however, Philip was unable to walk. The summer of 2011, after years of therapy and encouragement, we acquired a brace for Philip that enabled him to take his first steps.
March, 2013, at seven years old, Philip was adopted. We miss his bilingual commentary, his bright laugh and his fierce determination, but we know that he is on his way to change the world. From a brain-damaged prognosis has grown an amazing little boy who daily does the impossible. Philip’s story is one of the most incredible ones we have ever told.