To this little guy, her majesty Fate has been more than unkind. He has been born with more health issues and abnormalities than even well-off families are able to handle: the list (below) goes on and on.
The first thing everybody sees is a cleft palate. While adults can control themselves, the kids around do not hold back their disgust. The caretakers try to ‘compensate’ in love and attention, but they still cannot do as much as a standard surgery would do.
And who would think about ‘cosmetic’ surgery when there are more urgent health problems to consider: there is also an arthrogryposis of the right leg with the stomach, spinal hernia, and most importantly, the congenital heart defect coupled with atrioventricular septal defect.
Sounds scary? You bet. But even scarier is the thought that most of these defects are correctable, yet there isn’t enough money for even half the needed surgeries. With the communal effort, orphanage director and his staff were able to raise some money from their personal savings for the much-needed hip displacement correction. The next one on the list is the vascular surgery that would cost at least $700. Nobody is even asking what other surgeries might cost.
Before you close this page, please think a second longer about this child – he is not just a textbook case. His name is Alex. He is just as smart as other kids around him. He loves to play with other children (the ones who are kind enough to be his playmates). He can listen for hours to caretakers singing or telling fairytales, and tries to talk back, which is very difficult and even painful for him. In heart and soul, he is a child like any other. He only needs some medical help to look and feel like his peers.
From his father’s refusal letter, we know what a hard decision it must have been for the family. It is hard to pass judgment on his parents who had no resources or strength to take care of their son. With no ultrasound available to the mother during pregnancy, she had no knowledge, and no choice. And after giving birth, she could do nothing more than to give the baby up to the orphanage, hoping for a miracle. Together, we can make a miracle in Alex’s life.
09/03/03 Update: $1,050 collected, big thanks to Amey, Suzanne, Nicholas and Julie. We have notified the orphanage authorities that the money are raised and they are currently scheduling Alex’s surgery.
12/20/03 Update: The doctors have decided it is safe to separate Alex’s leg from his stomach even with his poor heart. This would give him an early start in rehabilitation and learning to walk. Thanks to money raised, this surgery was successfully performed in November and Alex is recovering now. However, neither spinal hernia nor cleft palate can be operated on with the heart defect Alex has. The heart surgery can be performed once the orphanage can come up with $700 for oxigenizer, an apparatus that would circulate blood during the surgery.
01/09/04 Update: Tina and Randy pledged $200 towards Alex’s surgery and planned to take it with them when they travel to Ukraine to adopt their own child. Due to unforeseen delays and expenditures on their adoption trip, Tina and Randy will send their donation a few weeks later once they are back home in U.S.
01/30/04 Update: Another family visiting Ukraine brought $200 for Alex’s surgery, donated by Sandy and Bob. At the moment, Alex is in rehabilitation after the first leg separation surgery and is wearing a specialized belt. His cardiologists are happy with how his heart handled the first surgery.
02/09/04 Update: Mary has wired the remaining $300 towards oxigenizer to the coordinator in Ukraine. Once Tina and Randy send in their pledged donation, baby Alex will be preparing for the heart surgery.
04/10/04 Update: Baby Alex is recovering from the leg separation surgery, but we have received a bad news from the Odessa cardiologists. They feel they do not have enough expertise to perform a heart surgery for baby Alex, and therefore it is postponed indefinitely.
09/30/04 Update: An incredible West Virginia family with twelve children adopts baby Alex and an 11-year old girl from a neighboring internat. Baby Alex is now affectionately known as Baby Luke and gets to know his new big family.
11/15/04 Update: Baby Luke undergoes an extremely successful heart surgery at John Hopkins Hospital and spends a week in the recovery. The hole in his heart was larger than originally thought, and it was repaired with a plastic “patch.” The damaged aortic valve has also been repaired, and doctors were happy to report that only one surgery was needed instead of two.
11/25/04 Update: Baby Luke fully recovers and is enjoying his Thanksgiving meal together with his Momma Jeane, Daddy Paul and loving brothers and sisters. Now his life is completely out of danger, but his road to recovery is just beginning. In the spring of 2005, Luke will have a cosmetic surgery to repair his cleft lip and palate. Next, Luke would need to have his club foot on the right leg corrected and then the doctors will see what can be done about his walking. Although it is a long, difficult road ahead, Luke’s parents are prepared to do whatever it takes to help him find his place in life, whether or not he is eventually able to walk.
04/15/05 Update: Baby Luke’s cleft correction surgery is scheduled for May 12, after which he would spend three weeks in recovery. Let’s hope everything goes well for Luke.
05/16/05 Update: Luke’s surgery has gine extremely well, and he was home the next day. In three weeks, the bandages will be off and we would be allowed to see his darling face.