Archive for August, 2011

Alex’s update from China – August 18 and 19

August 18

There were several cases that were set for today, however, because the physical therapy team had had such great results while working with the kids, the team decided to forego the operations in hopes that physical therapy will be enough.  One of the kids that was set to have an operation had severe Arthrogryposis of virtually all his joints, which left him immobile and in pain.  Luckily, the wheelchair and exercises that the team had been using helped improve his condition.  The training of the nurses and caretakers in physical therapy is crucial for the future success of the kids. 

Unfortunately, this was Dr. Martin and my last night at Maria’s Big House of Hope.  We went to dinner with the group at Pizza Hut, of all places!  In China, Pizza Hut is a fairly nice sit-down restaurant.  After dinner, Dr. Martin said his goodbyes (I had plans to see the group the next day in Beijing at the Great Wall) and we headed off to the airport to return to Beijing. 

August 19

I met up with the group from Maria’s to see the Great Wall.  It was so much fun to see the wall and hang out for one last time.  The amazing part about this section of the Great Wall was the toboggan sleds/cars you could take down from the top to the bottom.  It was a lot of fun to ride them like some sort of Olympic event.  After most of us had climbed to the top and got back down, I said my goodbyes to the many wonderful people I had met.

August 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm Leave a comment

Adrienne Update

Adrienne remains in the hospital but her condition is improving.  Hopefully, she will be released soon and return to Heartbridge Healing Home.

August 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Alex’s update from China – August 17

 Today the surgeons had the two most complex cases of the entire trip.   Two boys that were born without the radial bone of the forearm, which causes severe immobility and use of the hand, were operated on throughout the day.  Dr. Thomas carefully dissected the skin, vessels, and nerves away from the inner wrist, so that it could be mobilized.  Following the dissection, a small metal wire was drilled into the ulna and into the bones of the palm, so that the hand and wrist could heal in a naturally straight resting position.  

Besides the surgeries, I got to ultrasound the kids we found with positive signs of hip dysplasia in our previous screening rounds.  I was really excited to use the $30,000 portable ultrasound machine!  It was really neat to be able to interpret the images.   I’ve always found ultrasound images to be the most ambiguous and difficult to interpret, but I think it must be easier when you get to do the ultrasound yourself.

August 22, 2011 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

Alex’s update from China – August 16

Another day full of surgeries!  There were three more cases today.  The surgeries will allow the kids to have greater functioning and live a more normal life.   

I helped Dr. Martin perform some tests on the children throughout Maria’s to screen for signs of hip dysplasia.  Early detection can lead to minor treatment with a special harness, whereas later detection and more severe dislocation may result in needing surgery and an awkward cast for the hips and legs.

In the afternoon, I went on a shopping trip with one of the trip coordinators, Mikey, who speaks Chinese quite well, although he says he’s still at a fourth grade level.  I’d hate to think how long it would take me to be mediocre.  We ventured across  Luoyang to get some shelves and boxes for all the extra surgical equipment and medical supplies that were donated to Maria’s.  I really enjoyed talking with Mikey about his time in China and we seemed to agree that Luoyang and cities like it are much more of what we picture when we think of China.   It was a lot of fun to go out to the wholesale market and see all the things that make Luoyang unique.  We packed the van full of shelving pieces and plastic containers and headed back to Maria’s, unable to see out of any window but the front one!  Later we went out to dinner and I got to try the famous roasted duck.

August 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Max Update

Max and Alex

Max is at Maria’s Big House of Hope waiting for his next surgery.  After his surgery, he will rejoin his twin brother Matthew at Heartbridge Healing Home.  Additional sponsors are needed for Max.

August 19, 2011 at 2:25 am 2 comments

Alex’s update from China – August 15

First day of surgery!  I was fortunate enough to get to observe two cases.   The first involved a kid who had syndactyly of three fingers (index, middle, and ring finger are fused side by side).  The second case was a little more complex.  It involved a child with a fibrous and constricting band of skin that was severely impairing his ability to walk.     Besides observing the surgeries, I again visited with some kids.  I have grown quite fond of one little girl, who just couldn’t be any cuter.  I also helped a nurse again, this time with irrigation of a stoma, and then I helped Dr. Martin perform some screening tests to check the kids for any sign of hip dysplasia.  It was nice to contribute in both of these ways.   It was a long day, but a great start and I’m excited to see more!

August 19, 2011 at 12:37 am Leave a comment

Alex’s update from China – August 14

Today was mostly a day for the group to rest and prepare for the start of the operations on Monday.  I went through the floors exploring each room and meeting the kids.  I was greeted with friendly faces in almost every room I went into.  There are a significant number of babies born with imperforate anus, many of them with colostomies, waiting for their pull-through procedure.  In November, there will be a team from Cedar Sinai hospital coming to do the imperforate anus cases.  I was also asked by a nurse to help with the placement of a colostomy bag and to try to prevent the bag from falling off during the night.  I think the main thing I learned from all this time with these kids is that there is no doubt in my mind that I will adopt a kid with special needs.

August 17, 2011 at 11:04 am 1 comment

Alex’s update from China – August 13

Big day!  I played with the kids on the outside playground in the morning.  There was one particularly cute little girl, who had had her cleft lip repaired.  She was such a blast to play with on the big playground obstacle course.  Before leaving for the airport, I got to meet a mother and her daughter who were volunteering at New Hope.  I found out that the mother was from Hangzhou, where I was born!  She was very nice and offered to help show me around Hangzhou if I ever visit.  We took off for Maria’s Big House of Hope in Luoyang  in the evening.   We left for the airport around 2:00 pm.  It was startling to see all the suitcases of medical equipment that we were bringing.  There were around 32 suitcases full of stuff!  We arrived in Luoyang around 9:00 pm and got to Maria’s Big House around 9:30 pm.  At first sight, I was amazed to see how great of a facility this place is.  There are over 130 kids who are getting treated for a variety of conditions.

August 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

Alex’s update from China – August 12

I woke up early and rounded with Dr. Martin and the nurse.  I spent most of the day just playing with the kids, especially three boys in the “Nemo room”.  They divide the larger rooms for the kids by theme.  Two of the little boys had unrepaired bladder exstrophies.  Despite their condition, they were rambunctious little kids.  During the afternoon, I accompanied Dr. Martin and the nurse, Erma, to Beijing United Family Hospital to take two girls for some checkups.  One had hip surgery and was in a really cumbersome cast.  The other little girl needed some prescriptions for her heart medications.  It was funny because we had to wait quite a while for the prescription, so I ran to the store and bought a baguette.  When I came back, she grabbed the bread and devoured the rest of it.  She has quite the appetite.  Every time I’ve seen her she’s wanted some sort of food from me.  Maybe it’s because she seems to catch me when I’m snacking!  In the evening, I watched Forest Gump with one of the long-term volunteers, Shannon.  I had actually never seen the whole movie.  Now that I’ve seen the end, it’s one of my new favorite movies!

August 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm 1 comment

Alex’s update from China – August 11

Tao and Alex

What a packed day!  In the morning, I went to rounds again and I was asked to present the research project on the spot.  Around 1:30 pm, I went to the Chun Miao school to meet with Zhang Wen Tao, an 11 year old boy we have sponsored.  It was neat to see that he was happy.  He liked the Ohio State hat I gave to him.  The communication was a bit challenging, but we managed, thanks to “Google translate”.  I left the school happy to see that he was emotionally doing well.  I think the goal is to better support his Scoliosis and other medical issues.  From there, I went about 40 minutes to Shun Yi, the village area where Hope Foster Home is located.  I was immediately greeted by Dr. Steve Martin (who happens to look a little like the actor, Christian Bale) and his father.  Right after stepping through the door way, I was whisked upstairs to see a procedure for a child with club feet.  Dr. Martin used local anesthetic and cut a small portion of the Achilles tendon to allow dorsal (upward) rotation of the foot.  The baby’s feet were then placed in casts to try and influence the area to heal in a more normal way. This procedure, I learned, is known as the Ponseti Method and it is used to correct the foot so that the child can hopefully walk.  Along with this, the child had a condition known as Arthrogryposis, which causes problems with the joints, making the affected limbs unusable.  

The family of the doctor is quite large, six kids and all of them are full of energy!  Along with the doctor’s family, I’ve already met some really great people.  There is a father who is with his two sons on a humanitarian trip where they are visiting 12 nations and doing humanitarian work for one month.  It was amazing to hear that the idea actually came from the 13 year old son.  He believed that he wasn’t making enough of his time with the normal school and American life, so he influenced his dad and brother to start a globetrotting journey to make a difference in the world. 

Here are some websites everyone should check out:

http://www.hopefosterhome.com/

http://twelveintwelve.org/

http://www.medart.org.hk/web/main.php   This is a great group of talented physicians that provide, free of charge, care and operations for Chinese orphans with urology, tumors, orthopedic, and other medical needs.  They also put on concerts to raise money, since most of the physicians are also classically trained musicians!

August 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm 1 comment

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