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.
On January 5th, Yutong was finally released from the ICU! Her parents were waiting anxiously by the elevator, hoping to catch a glimpse of their son.
Yutong underwent surgery just a few weeks ago on December 24th 2014. Unlike most of our heart surgery sponsorships, this is Yutong’s second congenital heart disease surgery. The second surgery was far more dangerous than the first and took over 8 hours. Yutong’s mother could not sleep the day before the surgery and cried the entire evening. Her eyes were so swollen that she could not open them the next morning. When they took the child to the operating room, Yutong’s mother could not control her emotions anymore and weeped on the bench outside operating room. Words of comfort seemed very meaningless at that moment, and all we could do was stay by their side and support the family emotionally.
The room filled with relief and joy when the surgeon came in to update us on Yutong's successful surgery. Her mother hadn't eaten for over 40 hours and announced that she felt hungry immediately after hearing the news.
Yutong’s father’s worries deepened as his one-day-old son was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. The baby also did not have a simple case of the disease. He had an atrial septal defect as well as a patent ductus ateriosus. Yutong’s father told us that when he heard the results, he suddenly hated his wife and suspected that she intentionally concealed her heart condition before marriage. He hated her for passing the disease on to their innocent children. In a short two days, he found out that the two family members closest to him have heart disease. Yutong’s father said that, walking out the doctor’s office, he was heartbroken.
After smoking several cigarettes in the hallway, Yutong’s father calmed down. When he saw his wife’s frail form in the hospital ward, he began to regret his earlier feelings. He could not tell his wife then their son’s colored ultrasound result. If he did, she would not be able to take it. After staying in the hospital for a week, they return home. Yutong’s mother recalled Yutong’s father staying silent the entire way home. She guessed that either her child or her is sick. She never guessed, however, that her son would also have congenital heart disease.
Back at home, Yutong’s grandparents were very please to see a baby boy, but the boy’s parents had many worries. Especially for Yutong’s father, he did not dare to tell his parents that his new-born son also has congenital heart disease. He is most worried about his mother, who has hypertension. If her blood pressure shoots up after hearing this news, the family would be even more devastated. He planned to let a month pass before revealing the news.
Yutong’s mother is very skinny and did not have any milk after giving birth, so both her children grew up drinking powdered milk. Yutong has had a very small apetite since birth. In her mother’s words, Yutong is growing like a bean sprout. But her son is very different. He has a huge appetite and consumes an entire can of powdered milk every four days. The family spends 800 yuan buying powdered milk for the baby boy each month. Therefore, her son’s body is a lot healthier than her daughter’s.
Yutong and her mother; the success of her child’s second surgery brought joy to this young mother
Now all Yutong’s father wants is for his son’s disease to be a lot easier to treat than his daughters. Doctor Tang told them that, perhaps in two years, as the child grows, the holes in his heart will decrease in size. If the apertures are less than 3mm in size, the boy will not need surgery. Yutong, who is not ever three years old, had underwent surgery twice in one year in order to have a healthy body. Her father hopes that his son will be able to avoid the painful fate of his sister.
It has been thirteen days from the start of Yutong’s surgery to her discharge from the ICU. Yutong passed from 2014 to 2015 during those days under intensive care. Yutong gave us a scare during these days when, three days after surgery, the doctor told us that Yutong can go off the life-support machine because the child was in a good condition. Because the life-support machine costs more each extra day Yutong uses it, and because going off the life-support machine early would be good for Yutong’s recovery as well, Yutong was taken off the machine in the morning. We rejoiced because at this rate, Yutong can soon return to the normal ward. In the afternoon, however, we learned that during the three hours Yutong was off the life-support machine, her breathing capabilities weakened and that she is in critical condition. They had to hook her up again the to machine. Her mother said that when she heard the good news in the morning, she had felt an appetite to eat, but in the afternoon, after hearing of Yutong’s condition, she did not even feel like drinking a drop of water. Luckily, in the ensuing couple of days, Yutong’s condition remained normal and without emergencies. We are very grateful for that.
Yutong’s father said that after their son was one month old, he secreted asked his wife, “Did you hide your congenital heart disease history from me?” His wife told him that she really did not know that she had congenital heart disease. Her family did not know either, and if they knew, they would not be able to hide it from him. Yutong’s father believes his wife because from the first day they met, he knew that she is innocent and honest, sometimes she would not even utter any extra words. She would never hide anything from him. His wife is not to blame.
The story of the two young parents finding out about their son’s illness, especially how the semi-illiterate father understood and trusted his wife, touches us deeply. Yutong’s father always believed that, because he is still young, he can earn money through his labor every year. “One at a time” is his motto. He will earn enough money to help his wife and son undergo surgery one at a time.
On January 5th, 2015, Yutong transferred from the ICU to a regular ward. Although she still looks very pale and tired, she has already passed the most dangerous period of her recovery. She will be able to stay by her parents’ side for a long time in the future. Her father said that Yutong’s second surgery is a gift of rebirth from Little Red Scarf. Yutong’s second surgery cost was too much for him to pay. If it were not for LRS’ helping hand during this critical time, he would still be decided whether or not to let his child undergo the second surgery. Yutong’s father kept saying “thank you” to us. Although he cannot read many words, he can use the simplest, most sincere language to express his gratitude for the people who helped him.
In the short period of one year, Yutong and her mother were both hospitalized. Currently, the family owes 100,000 yuan in debt. Because the illness struck so fast, this young father did not even have time to rest and think, never mind going out to earn money for his family. He will use the rest of this year to rest. After Chinese New Year, he will gather his bags and go out with his aging father to try to earn some money through manual labor. He needs to support his young, baby boy, who might need surgery, and an ill wife.
“One at a time.” Let us give our best wishes to this young father. We hope that Little Red Scarf’s support can help him become more determined and give his courage to face the difficulties in the future.
Original article written by Yunyun Jie, translated by EV Intern Allison Zhang, edited by Yanyan Zhang
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