Friday, April 13, 2012

this post has been brought to you by sally struthers

I have realized that it would appear, based on the subject matter of my blog posts, that I have come to China just to screw around. Indeed, I have done a lot of screwing around. But! I've also been putting in an arduous 24 hours a week or so at the hospital (I can finally start an IV with confidence--hooray--and have gotten to work with awesome patients from all over the world), and this week, my roommate and I spent an afternoon at a medical foster home.

What is a medical foster home, you ask? Well. It is unfortunately very common in China for parents to abandon an infant if it has any kind of abnormality. This is because 1., the government limits people to one child, and 2., the healthcare system is f***ed and most people would not be able to afford corrective surgery or treatment. So babies are dumped in orphanages and never registered, and thus the parents can try again.

This awesome nurse lady from Oregon came to China with her husband and her two adopted children five years ago to spend a month volunteering with such babies. They never left. Now they run a home for babies with cardiac defects. They keep the kids healthy with an arsenal of medical supplies, including prescription medications, nebulizers, and a cardiac monitor, advocate for the babies to get needed surgeries and medical care, and get them placed on the national adoption list. They have nannies at the home, one for every two children, 24 hours a day.

This little sweetiepants is deaf and has a colostomy.

They don't know why he has a colostomy, and they can't afford to figure out why. If they could figure out why, maybe it could be repaired and he could be back to soiling diapers like a normal kid. In any case, he was delightful. We played soccer and bumper bikes. The nannies will probably hate me for teaching him bumper bikes.

This compact ray of sunshine has Tetralogy of Fallot, which is basically medicalspeak for four heart defects for the price of one.

Several months ago, she was in heart failure and stayed in the ICU at a "local hospital" (i.e., not the fancy private Westernized one I work at) for four weeks. While she was there she lost five pounds, presumably because she wasn't getting fed enough. When she came back to the foster home, she recoiled from people because in China the nurses are taught not to hold the babies. She has since had surgery and is doing well.

It will be a great feat of willpower if I make it on the plane back to the US without a Chinese baby in my carry-on.

*all photos by my wonderful roommate/classmate

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