Xiaojie is a child with a condition known as congenital funnel chest. A funnel chest is caused by a bending of the sternum, costal cartilage, and ribs towards the spine that creates a funnel-shaped sink. This condition is a type of congenital chest wall deformity. If the deformity is severe, the sternum and vertebrae will become almost touching, or the sternum will sink into a groove next to the vertebrae and cause the heart to become pressured to move to the left, affecting the patient’s heart cardiopulmonary functions.
Xiaojie has a severe case of funnel chest and underwent two orthopedic surgeries when he was 5 years old. Unfortunately, neither surgery was successful. During the second surgery, when the metal plate had to be removed, the large area of the child’s wound was infected, so cleaning the wound every day was like going through torture. Anesthesia could not be applied, so the parents asked relatives of other children in the same ward to keep the child down, so the doctor can use medical cotton to go deep into the wound and clean it. The piercing cries of the child and the sobbing of the parents made everyone in the room feel pained.
Hard Work to Pay for Medical Expenses
Xiaojie’s family lives in a rural, mountainous village in Dingxi, Gansu Province. There is little rain and there are many natural disasters, so the land is not fertile at all. To treat Xiaojie, the family borrowed 60 thousand yuan. These past few years, to pay back the debt, Xiaojie’s mother would go pick cotton in Xinjiang every year, and his father would work as a manual laborer in the city. After a few years like this, they finally paid back a majority of the debt and now still owe 8,000 yuan.
Checkup Sponsored by Grandma Chu's Love Fund
Xiaojie is now 12 years old and is in fourth grade. He looks very different from before. Xiaojie is a good student and ranks in the top three in his class for every test. What worries his mother is that, because of his funnel chest, Xiaojie remains small and skinny. His mother’s greatest wish is that Xiaojie’s illness can be cured. During one of our phone-call checkups, Xiaojie’s mother told us what was on her mind, and we found out about Xiaojie’s family’s current difficulties. In 2015, Little Red Scarf applied on Xiaojie’s behalf for a 2,000 yuan donation to be used on Xiaojie’s checkup fees. But because the child is too scared of coming to the hospital after his previous surgeries, the checkup date had to be postponed. On January 19th, 2016, Xiaojie, who is on winter break, finally agreed to come to Lanzhou. We gave the 2,000 yuan ($300) donated by Grandma Chu’s Love Fund to Xiaojie’s mother.
As soon as they entered the hospital, both Xiaojie and his mother began tearing up. The pains of the past crept into their hearts. When he saw doctors in white coats, Xiaojie was so scared that he began crying. After initial checkups by the doctor, we found out that Xiaojie’s condition is still very serious, and that his illness will directly impede his development, causing him to remain small. The doctor continues to recommend that Xiaojie undergo a “sternum lifting surgery” before he becomes an adult to change his current condition.
We heard from Xiaojie’s mother that she almost lost her own life when picking cotton in Xinjiang. As she sat on the tricycle carrying the cotton, the road was very bumpy and one of the steel rods on the cart hit the back of her head. She fainted immediately and stayed in the local hospital for over ten days to recover. She tells us that when she was in a coma-like state she was worried that if she died, her Xiaojie would not be well taken care of.
Considering Another Surgery
Xiaojie’s mother wants the child to undergo surgery but is scared of surgery at the same time. Xiaojie refuses to undergo surgery again. We comforted Xiaojie’s mother by telling her to not worry and to give the child a little time and talk to him about the benefits and drawbacks of surgery. After he can gradually accept the reality, they can then think about surgery.
Xiaojie is a mature child. Little Red Scarf will continue to follow up with Xiaojie’s family and help them when they need it. We hope that God will bless this family and give them a chance to be reborn!
Xiaojie's Thank You Letter
I am Xiaojie. I am 12 years old this year and am a fourth grader in elementary school. I really like math. My dream is to become a doctor, so that when I grow up and can prevent children from suffering like I did and allow more children to live happily. Thank you to the uncles and aunties of Little Red Scarf.
Original article written by Guan Ying, Translated by Allison Zhang, Edited by Carolyn D.
TFISH FUND BLOG
We update news and reports directly from the field written by our NGO partners daily.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
IN THE NEWS