Deformed babies get free operations
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-22 09:15

SHENYANG: An abandoned Chinese baby boy with a cleft palate may be given a free operation by an American charity after his plight was highlighted on the China Daily website.

The abandoned baby boy with a cleft palate sleeps at a local police station in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province. The baby boy may be given a free operation by an American charity after his plight was highlighted on the China Daily website. [Newsphoto]

He is just one of scores of youngsters the San Francisco-based Alliance for Smiles (AFS) hopes to help while it is in China.

On September 17, the infant was found under a bridge in Shenyang, the capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province. The child, thought to be about a month old, was taken to the Shenyang Children's Welfare Institute.

Several pictures about the baby were published on the China Daily website earlier this week and seen by someone in the United States.

"My friend Jeannie Butler sent me an email from the US about the baby," said South African Amanda Delange, who has been living in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, for a year, where she has been caring for six orphans.

Delange contacted Jennifer Guerra from AFS, knowing the charity was in China to help children with cleft palates/lips.

Guerra got in touch with Dr Colin C. Wong, leading the current medical team in China. But as Dr Wong had no idea about how to find the boy, he turned to China Daily for help. Yesterday the paper contacted the Shenyang Children's Welfare Institute.

After finding out the baby's age, Dr Wong said it would be risky to do an operation now. But he added: "We will come back next year. Then, if possible, I want to help the boy and do the operation."

He said that this time around, his team will carry out operations on 110 children in Northeast China for free.

The current AFS project, organized with the help of the Shenyang Red Cross Society, focuses on young patients with cleft palates/ lips in Shenyang and other cities in Northeast China, according to Liu Xicheng, vice-president of the Shenyang Red Cross Society.

A doctor examines the abandoned baby boy with a cleft palate at a local police station in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province. [newsphoto]

"Our aim is to provide a free service for children from low-income families and orphans," said Liu.

The medical team has 32 members from around the world including Canada, Australia and America.

In order to help more patients, the local Red Cross started working early last month in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces, added Liu.

He said over 300 children from over 10 cities are in the Shenyang Children Hospital in readiness for an operation, although they cannot all be treated because of time limits and their health status.

"Such an operation can really help them as it can repair their faces and allow them to live as normal kids," said Wong.

Operations are arranged according to the condition of each child, according to Don D. Walker, ward co-ordinator of the team.

Doctors from ASF were busy performing operations every day from morning until night. They expect to work for 10 days.

Three-year-old Lu Jing could not smile properly because the simple action was too painful for him.

"I felt sorry for my son every time I saw other kids laughing happily. He is so lovely but I could not afford the operation expenses," said Sun Hongwei, a farm worker from Heilongjiang Province.

"Thank you, thank you ASF. You have brought such happiness to my boy," said the grateful mother.

Each operation costs around 8,000 yuan (US$1000) in Shenyang, according to Zhang Xinli, the chief of the ENT (ear-nose-throat) department at Shenyang Children Hospital.

That is far too expensive for local low-income families who are mainly farmers and laid-off workers. For example, Sun said she earned about 2,000 yuan (US$250) a year from corn and other crops.

ASF will be coming back to China.

"They will come to Shenyang every April and September," said Liu from the Red Cross, to comfort disappointed parents.

This is the third time ASF has come to Shenyang. After the first time in May last year, it also went to South China's Fujian Province and East China's Jiangxi Province.


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