Friday, November 1, 2013

November 2013 Featured Child: Baby Jia (It's Preemie Month!)

November's featured child, Jia, is a great example of how we care for premature babies at the Little Flower infant care homes, and how simple monthly donations can make a huge difference in saving a child's life.

Almost a year ago to the day, an orphanage called and told us that they had a tiny premature baby to send to us. It was by no means the first time we’d received a call like that, as we deal with preemies on a day-to-day basis. These infants, who were born early and didn’t have a full term to grow, are some of the most fragile babies in our care. They require constant monitoring to help them maintain a stable body temperature, develop healthy lungs, put on weight, and steadily grow stronger day by day.

In November of last year, tiny Jia arrived at our Beijing Infant Care Home. He weighed just 1.37 kilograms, or about 3 pounds. It’s hard to imagine a baby that small, isn’t it? At that size, the baby isn’t much bigger than your hands! Here's our very first photo of the little guy:

November 20, 2012

You can see, with one of our medical staff's hands in the shot, just how small this tiny baby was. That diaper he's wearing is preemie-sized, and it still resembles a potato sack on him!

We soon noticed that Jia’s head looked oddly large in comparison to the rest of his body. Although this is often the case with preemies, the difference was notably greater in this little guy. We started to suspect that he might have had a case of hydrocephalus, a condition in which the infant has an abnormal collection of fluid in the brain. One phone call later, we’d consulted a neurosurgeon, described little Jia, and from the description, the doctor had agreed with our suspicions.

We rushed him to the hospital to do a scan checking for hydrocephalus.
But, to everyone's utter surprise, the scan came back negative.
Just to make sure, we did the scan again at a different hospital (we’re nothing if not thorough). And again, the test came back negative. So it wasn’t hydrocephalus after all…
So what was it?
November 20, 2012

As it turned out, Jia has Russell-Silver Syndrome, a form of dwarfism characterized by normal growth of the head, but slow growth in the rest of the body before and after birth.
Mystery solved, the goal then (as is the goal with all of our preemies) was to grow him bigger and stronger. We kept him in an Embrace infant warmer for a while to help his tiny body maintain a stable temperature.
November 25, 2012

He was very weak, and it was a daily struggle to help him thrive. He was on a feeding tube, but it was very difficult to get him to eat as much as he needed.

November 26, 2012

As you can see, even the little preemie clothes were way too big for him!

December 1, 2012

Soon enough, however, he began to grow bigger (and even cuter!). And it wasn't the result of any kind of surgery or expensive medical procedure. It was all the result of simple, intensive nursing care and love from our staff.

December 2, 2012

December 21, 2012

Jia's nannies watched him closely every day, and our medical staff monitored his progress.

December 31, 2012

His eyes grew brighter, and his face a little chubbier.

January 10, 2013

Look at those rosy cheeks!

May 23, 2013

June 17, 2013

We eventually got him off the feeding tube and eating on his own at last. It wasn't long before he was moving out of the preemie room and into the room for our bigger kids to laugh, crawl, and play with his buddies. Notably, he also became one of our baby home's winners of the Most Photogenic Baby Award, with his bright eyes and little smile.

August 2, 2013

There he is crawling toward the camera for his close-up!

September 4, 2013

A full year later, Jia is doing great. He's recently gone to another infant care home in his home province, all in preparation for adoption. A happy ending to a year-long journey.

October 2, 2013

Jia is a great example of how basic intensive care and monitoring is often all that's needed to save a baby’s life. It’s not always surgery, complex medical procedures, and hospital visits that are necessary for effective treatment.

We treated Jia at home, and other than those initial two hospital visits for the scans that turned out not to be hydrocephalus, our staff was able to provide everything he needed.
With nearly 150 nannies and care staff working around the clock--24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we can save so many babies simply by providing what we’re capable of in our infant care home. Jia alone had several nannies working three 8-hour shifts each day, along with our baby home staff members and medical volunteers looking in on him.

Surgeries are a huge expense and a very important part of what we do for our kids. But what people don’t always realize is that it's these daily expenses--our nannies' salaries, medical staff, supplies, medicine, equipment--that are often at the heart of what we do. For about $800/month, you can save a child's life. And we’re doing that over and over again—especially with the infants in our preemie unit.

Jia's not a tiny little bean in a giant preemie diaper anymore. He's a healthy boy awaiting his forever family. All of us here at Little Flower are so happy to have seen him through his first year of life.

And we're so excited to have shared his story with all of you--our amazing supporters.

No comments:

Post a Comment