In early November of 2012, we first saw a photo of a beautiful five-week-old baby boy. His orphanage let us know that this little fellow had a heart defect, and wondered if we would be able to help. A few phone calls and emails were exchanged, and two days later an echocardiogram was arranged at a prominent children’s hospital.
“Joel” as we decided to call him, was diagnosed with a complex set of heart defects; the main issue was a Complete Endocardial Cushion Defect. ECD is a heart condition in which the walls separating the chambers of the heart are poorly formed or absent. In Joel’s case, he has only one single atrium chamber instead of two, and also a single ventricle where there should be two.
Joel would need a two-stage surgery, with the first (the “Glenn”) to take place in about eight months when he was stronger. This surgery would help with blood flow to his lungs and give him better oxygen levels without overworking his heart.
In the meantime, with winter setting in, Joel was moved to our Heartbridge Healing Home. A warm bed, nutritious formula, and lots of TLC would help to prepare him for his operation. As you can see, the new surroundings met with Joel’s hearty approval!
This was our first glimpse of Joel’s endearing smile and amazing spirit. As a rule, when a new “heart baby” arrives, they are generally very quiet, easily fatigued, and don’t feel good enough to interact much. Apparently nobody ever told Joel about this rule, because he was determined to have himself a very good time. Here is Joel at naptime; doesn’t he look like he is going to nod off at any moment? I don’t think so.
Joel made such rapid progress that his surgery was moved up to April, rather than the previously anticipated August. Surgery was a success, and true to form, Joel was discharged back to Heartbridge just six days later. I think that breaks some kind of record! Before we knew it, Joel was sitting up on his own, crawling about the room, and by the time he reached his first birthday, Joel was taking his first steps. That is right on schedule as if he had no heart issues at all. Truly amazing!
I could go on and on about Joel’s accomplishments and joyous personality, but instead I would like to focus on what he still needs: his second heart surgery (the “Fontan,” which is a complex procedure) and, most of all, a permanent, loving family by his side.
From what we know about Joel’s condition, it is not an overstatement to say that he will not survive without adoption. He needs to get to the US so he can get the specialized heart care he will need long term.
Joel’s adoption paperwork is with an agency in the U.S., and we are all hopeful that he will be chosen quickly. It would be ideal if he could have his forever family by his side when he undergoes this second heart surgery.
If you know anyone open to adopting a child with cardiac issues, please let them know Joel is waiting. We encourage any interested families to contact our Adoption Advocacy team at [email protected]. Joel is sure to bring joy to a family!
~Jan Champoux, Heartbridge Healing Home Coordinator
Love Without Boundaries proudly advocates for adoption but is not an adoption agency. We invite you to contact [email protected] with questions about a child we have featured and encourage you to contact your adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.
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