Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baby Wang Update

Baby Wang arrived in mid-January in critical condition. This little one was abandoned with ambiguous genitalia, but his most urgent problem was a history of constant vomiting and severe dehydration. The orphanage was located in a remote area without access to a high standard of medical care. They had the baby admitted to the hospital, but after several weeks they still had no diagnosis or treatment plan. Not knowing what else to do, the baby was discharged back to orphanage care. It became clear after several days that the orphanage was unable to deal with the severity of this baby's problems, so they asked if we might help.

We agreed to accept the baby and transferred to our main medical home at once. When little Wang arrived, he was already 6 weeks old, but was barely over 5 lbs. When we discussed this baby with our medical consultants, the baby's unusual symptoms (ambiguous genitalia and severe malnourishment and dehydration) rang a bell with one pediatrician. She suggested we see if this might be something called congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Because the test for this condition is both expensive and difficult to obtain here, doctors recommended that we assume this was the problem and treat as such. Baby Wang began drug treatment for the adrenal hyperplasia and has been under the watchful eye of an expert dietician who is working to combat many weeks of malnourishment.

We are delighted to say little Wang has responded wonderfully, which confirms the doctor's suspicions of the original diagnosis. At this point it is still unsure if Wang is actually a boy or a girl, but chromosome testing later will answer this question. For now, we are just so glad that Wang is on the road to a normal and healthy life. See how much he has changed!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Big Girl Now!

Mei Mei came to the hospice as a very, very fragile infant with a serious heart defect. Surgeons do not feel that this defect can be repaired, so we did not expect her to live very long. However, she has defied all expectations and just keeps on going! Of course, she is very delayed due to her Down Syndrome, but she is getting there - just on her own timeline. She recently turned three years old, and is able to roll over (and over and over and over - her preferred method of locomotion) as well as sit and crawl. She loves to clap her hands and she loves her meals (even though they go into her feeding tube and she never actually gets to "taste" them). But most of all, she loves her little buddy, Kuan. She and Kuan are best friends.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Curly Feet

That is what lots of people called clubbed feet. And they are, all curled up, just like the baby was inside mom. Except, those little feet shouldn't be all curled up once baby is born, so our job is to fix them. And it is one of the most gratifying things we do!

We just started correcting the feet of little Min, who arrived last week. We'll apply a series of casts to gradually stretch the feet into the correct position. He'll need a very minor (out patient) surgery to nip the Achilles tendon when we are almost done, and then once he heals from that he'll get a special pair of corrective shoes that are attached to a brace that will help hold the position as he grows. Once he's 3 or 4 years old he won't even need that any more (till that time he'll need to wear his brace while sleeping) and then he'll be just like all the other kids!

So this little fellow got his first set of casts on Thursday. Here are his little feet before we started. His got the maximum score for the club foot deformity, so this is not a mild case:

He didn't seem to mind the casting at all (in fact, he only cried when we had to change his diaper in the middle of the process) and actually fell asleep as we were finishing. That is the beauty of the Ponseti method of club foot correction - it's non invasive, does not involve painful surgery or upset the baby's routines at all. And it works! We have been using the Ponseti method on all of our club foot babies for 6 years now and have seen some amazing transformations. Here is Min just as we were finishing, waiting for his plaster casts to dry:

Doesn't he look peaceful? We'll post more updates as we change his casts so you can see the progress too.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Well, our new little ones are settling in, and for the most part they do seem to be doing well. All four have transferred to the Medical Home, bringing us to 22 babies here in all. Our capacity here is 20 babies, so things are very busy for now! Our other baby home currently has 13 babies, with a usual capacity of 10 to 12. Fortunately, we have another 5 babies waiting to "graduate" into foster care, so as soon as homes are ready for them we should have some breathing space again.

Baby Min is totally adorable and just perfect in every way. He is strong and healthy, so we plan to begin casting his bilateral club feet this week. The feet look severely deformed, but since he is so young and does not have other associated medical problems we anticipate a relatively quick and uneventful correction. Stay tuned for updates on that. (And do excuse the pink blanket; he really is a boy!)

Little Yu and Yin are doing well also. Yu looks a bit more malnourished, and has a cute little skin tag on her cheek. Yin gave us a scare yesterday when her O2 levels dropped quite severely, but we have started her on antibiotics to treat pnuemonia and she has stabilized and has not worsened. So that is good news.

The tiniest of our new arrivals is Jun, but even he is gaining very quickly. Surprisingly, his oxygen levels have been quite stable. He only requires some assistance feeding and hot water bottles to help maintain a stable temperature. Our big concern for him now is a large ulcer on the side of his head. He has a similar (but not open and ulcerated) wound on the opposite side of his head - the symetrical nature of these wounds lead us to believe he suffered some kind of birth trauma. Perhaps damage from a difficult forceps delivery; we may never know.

As always, we are grateful for your prayers and support!