Little Red Scarf is in Lanzhou, Gansu province and provides financial support and encouragement to children suffering from congenital heart disease. In addition, they provide families with post-operative care and help the children sustain a healthy lifestyle.
The first time I saw Ga Lan, she and her husband looked dispirited and their clothes were shabby. They looked like they had stepped out of the 1970s. Ga Lan is 40. Her cheeks were red and she was wearing a red headscarf. Her clothes had not been cleaned for some time. She was holding a three month old baby in her arms. Doctors and nurses thought the baby was sick, but the sick person was Ga Lan. She had to bring the baby because there is no one at home to take care of it.
Ga Lan’s father is over 80 and his eyes were injured during the war. Her mother is over 70 and her spine was injured. Her parents raised 5 children, but not one is healthy. Ga Lan’s older brother died due to heart disease when he was 10. She has a 50-year-old brother who is disabled. Her 2 older sisters were married. Her parents expected she could carry on the family line. She was married 3 years ago to a man in the village. Her husband has a very big family of 15 siblings. The family could barely eat. He is the youngest and married Gan Lan in his 40s. Her husband is honest, but his spine was injured and it is hard for him to do field work, so the family’s burden fell on Gan Lan. They planted wheat and beans. They keep wheat for the family use and sell beans. The income of the whole family is about 1000 RMB per year.
Life after the marriage has not been smooth. Her first child died 6 months into the pregnancy. She gave birth to a son this year, which was a happy event for the family. 40 days after the child’s birth, Gan Lan was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. The doctor advised her to accept surgery in Lanzhou. She borrowed 8000 RMB from 5 families in the village and the couple took the train to Lan Zhou with her nephew.
Gan Lan is the client that Little Red Scarf has been seeking. She joined the Mother Caring program. She was very excited to be supported. She said to the staff of Little Red Scarf, “you are so kind.” On November 8, she was admitted by the hospital and did a series of checks. Considering her baby is 3 months, the doctor asked the family to send the baby back home in case of a possible infection from the hospital. She had to stop breast feeding and bought milk powder for the baby. The baby was sent to live with her sister. We also mobilized people around the hospital to donate. Doctors and nurses gave them clothes.
Gan Lan was diagnosed with congenital atrial septal defects (ASD) with severe pulmonary hypertension. After a few days’ treatment, the pulmonary hypertension had not experienced reduction. Under the advice of her doctor she chose conservative treatment. She said she had to raise her baby, take care of her parents and try to repair the shabby shelter where they live in the village. She decided to go back home. We do not know when we can see her again. We had her address and hope we can visit her.
Even though Gan Lan is out of the hospital, LRS will continue to pay attention to the family and seek more help for her.
Original article written by Ying Guan, translated by Maggie Li, and edited by Yanyan Zhang
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