Friday, August 29, 2014

August 2014 Featured Child: Hua

This month’s featured child is Hua! Last year on November 26th, this beautiful boy came into our lives.

He was just over a month old when he arrived, and not doing very well. Hua was born with two complicated medical conditions - one being bladder exstrophy, and the other anal atresia. Bladder exstrophy is a relatively rare birth defect accruing at a rate between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 50,000.

Little Hua has changed dramatically since he came to us 8 1/2 months ago. In his first pictures you can see he is a very observant and quiet looking boy who enjoyed swinging in the baby swings or being rocked to sleep.

He is definitely no shy little boy anymore, but a very smiley baby who loves to be held, kissed, played with and loved by all his nannies and the rest of Little Flower faculty.

He especially loves getting into things he shouldn’t, such as trashcans and big boxes of toys. But what 9-month old doesn’t? You would think that having a colostomy bag and a bladder exposed would slow someone down… But not Hua! He has everyone on their toes all the time trying to catch up with him.

Right now the plan is to do the bladder surgery first, and hold off on atresia while we give his body a chance to heal. Having two major surgeries like that at once is too much for a little guy like Hua. But because the first surgery to fix his bladder was unsuccessful, we are very concerned that the same thing could happen the second time, which could lead to even more complications. So please keep him in your prayers as we move forward with his treatment.

We have actually just confirmed that Hua is ready to have surgery whenever the funding is approved. But sadly right now we do not have the funding for his surgery which is very expensive. For both bladder exstrophy and second stage anal atresia it comes to $14,500 USD or roughly 90,000 RMB. You can click HERE to help Hua get closer to being healed and ready for a family of his own!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

An Urgent Letter from Little Flower Founder, Brent Johnson

Dear friends,

After months of relative peace at Little Flower and being able to just focus on managing the 24/7 care of the 185 children in our three locations, I am now back to being up at night worried. We’re looking at a rapidly approaching funding cliff coming in September.
We’d been clicking along rather nicely: (1) Our fully legal status in China thanks to the link-up with the Beijing Chunmiao Children’s Aid Foundation and my seat on the board of directors there along with some other wonderful directors; (2) great interaction with the government at all levels—again very much thanks to Chunmiao colleagues—and our ability to receive tax-deductible donations in both China and the USA; and (3) the deepening growth and development in maturity, insightfulness and talent of our Little Flower management team, who still amaze me with their tireless effort and devotion in an environment of endless challenges. In short, many things have been going well.
But now my old adversary has returned…worry and fear about money!
The problem is medical expenses. In 2013, we spent a little over RMB 2 million on medical expenses (USD 330,000), but this year, we are not even halfway through the year and have spent over RMB 3 million (USD 490,000).

Some of our kids—all abandoned or orphaned—have medical problems that are relatively simple and inexpensive to treat—cleft lip and palate, clubfoot, and minor heart defects. But others are complex and incredibly expensive--premature birth, serious heart defects, gastro-intestinal birth defects and more. We are now seeing more and more complex cases, more expensive procedures, and old reliable sources of funding that have disappeared.

This is Yan, a 16-month-old who recently came to us with brightly colored string tied around his wrist and ankle—a traditional good luck charm for safe travels. Our dilemma can be pretty much summed up by this little guy’s case. He needs a series of complex heart surgeries, but his family—likely from a rural village—couldn’t pay or get access to care and gave him up in the hope that someone could step in and save his life. The cost of the first surgery will be RMB 60,000 (USD 10,000), not including follow up care and possible later surgeries.

For every month of operation, we’re working to raise US $171,000 to make sure that the children across our projects in two cities get the 24-hour care, medical treatments, surgeries, and education that they need. 100% of that amount goes directly to childcare, as our administrative costs (accounting for just 5% of our budget) are covered by specific donations each year. It’s a massive undertaking, and your support can make a huge difference to us and the kids we’re trying to save.
Here are a few examples of how the funds you donate are used:
§  US$1500/month allows us to provide surgeries at reliable Beijing hospitals with solid surgeons, as well as follow on care at our Beijing location for children like Xiao Yan.
§  US$700/month enables us to provide high quality 24-hour intensive care for a prematurely born baby in unstable condition in our Taiyuan location.
§  US$250/month gives a loving home and 24-hour care to an intellectually-impaired child in our Taiyuan Long-Term Care Program.
§  US$100/month can give one of our infant care homes a new oximeter sensor, crucial to monitoring the oxygen levels of our fragile preemies and heart babies.
§  US$50 per month can purchase a set of five special spoon feeders for babies born with facial clefts. We have a lot of kids in this situation and need more of these spoons every year.

Please click here to sign up for a monthly donation. Our monthly donors are crucial the stability we need to keep our services up and running for the children in our programs. You can also fund a child's surgery by clicking here.

We're in a really tough spot right now with the majority of our funding about to run out in September and not much in the pipeline.

I’ve always been sort of envious of the organizations and people who never have to lose sleep over a single child or making budget in a single month.  But I’ve always been the “here’s a child in front of me that needs help right now” type of guy, and so that’s why I’m here begging for help. Please consider doing what you can.

Share this message with anyone you know who might be in a place to support us. Thank you for your support and encouragement. We've saved and improved the lives of more than 2,000 children in China now, and none of that would have been possible without your support.

We need you now as much as ever, if not more.

Thank you, and wishing you blessings as always!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Introducing our teeny tiny preemies!

With it being a bit of a preemie season right now, we have so many new faces around Preemie Room #1. Most of the babies in Preemie Room #1 are under 2 kilograms. Tiny, right? Because they are so small, they need constant attention and care. Kangaroo care is one of the most important things for these little guys. Monitoring their temperature, heart rate, and oxygen levels while giving them physical contact is a huge part of their growth and development.


Wang is one of our bigger preemies in Room #1. In the short time he’s been with us, he has made such an improvement! He came to us weighing just 1.49 kg (3.2 lbs) and is already 2.9 kg (6.4 lbs). It appears that he has few other problems besides the normal preemie baby concerns. So for now, we’re making sure to stay on top of his vitals so that we can respond as soon as anything looks suspicious. That means lots of holding, loving and singing, which Wang seems to love as it lowers his fast heart rate almost instantly.

For such a little guy, he definitely knows what he wants when it comes to feeding time! Wang has just recently started drinking from a bottle! Such a big step in the world of preemies. The transition from a feeding tube to bottle feeding is a very gradual process that can take quite a while, especially with preemies this small. Now he is still fed through his tube for the majority of the day. But if he is awake and looking around, we try and get some bottle feeding time in. Wang still has a lot of growing to do, but he has already come so far in the few weeks he’s been with us!


Little Yi came to Little Flower very shortly after Wang, weighing only 1.13 kg (2.4 lbs). He is now up to 2.15 kg (4.7 lbs) and getting bigger every day! Yi struggles with apnea; though for preemies this is quite common. As he grows older and stronger the apnea should go away on its own. This is natural as his body learns to regulate itself.
Yi was definitely an interesting little guy from the start. When he first came to us, he had no fontanelle (soft spot). He had these very big ridges all across his head which we were very concerned about. But after watching him for another 2 weeks, his bones gradually separated on their own and he now has a very tiny fontanelle. We suspect Yi may have other medical issues, but nothing we can confirm at this point in time. We will be watching him very carefully and hopefully he keeps on improving!
One of the things that seems to help with his apnea is to change kangaroo positions. As you can see  in the photo above, he loves it!


Ao joined the group right when Yi did! When Ao first arrived he weighed 1.21 kg (2.6 lbs). He now weighs 2.21 kg (4.9 lbs) and is steadily growing bigger. He has just recently stopped using the constant feed machine and can now begin gavage feeding!

So far Ao is doing well. We haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary, which is a good sign at this point. Because he is still so tiny, it would be difficult to say whether or not he will have medical conditions later on. But Ao does an excellent job of regulating his own body. Preemies can be perfectly stable one hour and then the next fall off of the charts, so it is still so very important to monitor him closely. With continued care and careful watching, little Ao will continue to move out of the preemie danger zone, improving a bit every day! Here's a photo of Ao with his buddy Wang:

Wang, Yi, and Ao have all made so much progress since coming to us a few weeks ago. Each day they are just a little stronger than the last, becoming more and more aware of what’s going on around them. They still have a lot of growing to do, but before you know it they’ll be be out of the preemie rooms!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Ambassador's Visit

US Ambassador to China Max Baucus and his wife Melodee Hanes stopped by our Beijing Infant Care Home last week to learn more about our work and even spend some quality time with a few of the babies currently in our care. They came bearing gifts, and our Founder Brent Johnson was able to give them the grand tour. It was wonderful to have the chance to show them around, discuss our operations, and talk more about the context of our projects.

Here, Brent's introducing the Ambassador and his wife to our preemie unit. Ms. Hanes is an attorney, with a particular interest in child protection.

There's Lily, in foreground, in her signature stance of working WHILE kangarooing a baby.

In baby room 4, they were able to visit with some of our bigger babies.

And when we made our way back to the preemie rooms, Kate (a nurse currently volunteering with us--read more about Kate here!) introduced our guests to a couple of our preemies. The parental instincts kicked in the minute they got those babies in their arms!