In June of this year, baby Jessica was born in a mountainous area in Jiangxi province. Jessica’s parents work as laborers and support not only their family but also a grandmother who suffers from rheumatism and can no longer work and a grandfather who does all the farming for the family. When Jessica’s parents were married in 2006, they tried and tried to have a child and became extremely worried when it did not happen. After many years of waiting and trying, they were overjoyed last year when they became pregnant with twins.
Sadly, one twin was too weak to survive and died soon after birth. After bringing Jessica home, her parents noticed that she often choked when feeding and seemed to have frequent lung infections. She was frequently hospitalized which was truly a financial hardship for this impoverished rural family since payment must be received up front to receive treatment.
In early August, Jessica ran a high fever and had shortness of breath and was sent to the hospital by ambulance. Doctors diagnosed her with tracheal fistula and esophageal fistula, conditions which commonly occur together. These conditions mean that there is a hole between her esophagus and her windpipe (trachea) and the upper part of her esophagus does not connect with her lower esophagus. She cannot eat or digest her food safely and breathes food from her stomach into her lungs, causing her recurrent lung infections. Both of Jessica’s conditions can usually be corrected in a single surgery, but her parents cannot afford the expense. Jessica’s father writes:
We are so worried because we don’t know if we can still borrow from relatives or friends. We borrowed from our relatives and friends already, and we have not paid back. But Jessica is our only child. My wife will not be able to get pregnant again. We really want to have the baby’s surgery done to save her life. We wish your foundation could give us some help. We are so grateful of any help!
Jessica’s hospitalizations for recurring lung infections have wiped out their savings, and her parents have borrowed heavily already to pay for her bills. Baby Jessica’s medical expenses equal about two years of annual income for their extended family.