Little Red Scarf operates in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, and Kunming, Yunnan Province. LRS provides financial support and patient advocacy to children suffering from congenital heart disease. In addition, they provide families with post-operative care to help the children sustain a healthy new life.
9 year old Rong Rong lives in the Dong ba district, where the mountains are snowcapped. When you meet her for the first time, you can almost feel the warmth in her smile. Rong Rong’s father proudly tells us that she gets excellent grades; she is first in her class. She gets asked this question a lot: how could such a young, energetic girl have congenital heart disease?
Rong Rong is currently living with her father, three grandparents and a sister. Rong Rong’s parents are divorced, but Rong Rong is unaware of the situation. When her father told us, he looked slightly nervous about Rong Rong finding out. Rong Rong’s older sister works in the field, but only makes enough to provide for her own life. She hasn’t been home for several years. Since the family is mostly made of the elderly and the young, Rong Rong’s father is the only one who works. He farms at home, leaving only one person to tend to over 3 acres of life. When I asked her father what he was raising, he said, “I raise twelve pigs, but these are for us to eat! It’s definitely not enough for it to go around in the community.”
Rong Rong was born with an extra toe, and around when she was 3 or 4, her family took her to the hospital for surgery. During a preoperative examination, she was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. At that moment, the doctor canceled the surgery, and recommended she receive treatment for congenital heart disease first. Because the cost of the surgery is so expensive, she has not been able to receive it. This little girl with an extra toe and an atrial septal defect can hope for another 5-6 years of life.
On September 16th, 2014, Rong Rong and her family arrived at the hospital early and even finished the ultrasound examination before admission. They have not shown even the slightest sign of impatience, and they always have a smile on their face. They waited for beds until the afternoon, and Rong Rong fell asleep in her father’s lap. Her father was afraid to wake her up, so he stayed in the same posture. This sight was quite the moving one. Despite poverty, disease, this daughter and father have managed to find inner peace and love.
They had to wait until four before Rong Rong received a vacant bed. The doctors went over the hospitalization procedure and I got to spend some alone time with Rong Rong. We talked agout her family situation, and she told me about how her father had to do laborious farm work, and how sometimes her grandmother and mother would help, but it was still very tedious. Her grandfather was in poor health, and can only help with cooking sometimes. After finding out how much work her parents commit to in order to provide for Rong Rong, I came to the conclusion that Rong Rong was so cheerful and lively because of her lovely and wonderful parents.
On September 18th, 2014, the third day of surgical admission process, Rong Rong woke up early for her surgery and successfully completed it at 12. When I went to call her father, I could hear his joy through the phone.
On September 19th, Rong Rong is already looking better, just after one day!
I asked her if she was in pain, and she said they hurt a little bit. Her parents chuckle besides her because her father replied along with her.
On September 22nd, 2014, Rong Rong was discharged from the hospital!.Rong Rong wrote a thank you note to everyone who helped her receive her surgery. In the background, her father gratefully thanked everyone who helped him keep his wonderful daughter
Rong Rong is living proof that congenital heart disease is easily overcome. Thanks to her optimism and her supportive family, we are confident that this family can overcome whatever difficulties lay ahead. We wish this lovely girl a healthy, happy future.
Original article written by Qianhua Liu, translated by EV Intern Katie Lan and edited by Yanyan Zhang
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