I know so many of you remember Gong Lu, the little girl who came to America to receive surgery on a facial tumor, and who had a personality the size of Texas. Gong Lu is now adopted by Dr. Buckmiller, the surgeon who first operated on her, and in just a few days she will be returning to China with her mom as LWB does its fourth medical mission trip in Shanghai.
On our trip to China last week, we left Anhui and headed into the province of Henan, to one of our most favorite orphanages because the staff are so completely committed to the children in their care. In the older children’s room, we immediately met Yuan. This little five year old girl had entered the orphanage just one week earlier, and the tumor on her face was the very first thing we all noticed. She actually has two tumors…..one on her forehead and then another on her cheek, affecting just one side of her face, but both grown to a size that has changed her entire appearance. While we might have noticed the tumors first, within seconds we were treated to the beauty of her smile. Soon we were graced with her sweet and gentle personality and I thought to myself that this was a very special child.
We offered Yuan a little cake and she insisted that I have some, too, and then when she noticed that I had empty wrappers in my hand, she called out to me “ayi” and took them from me to throw away. When I pulled her close for a hug, she melted into my arms, and I could feel her tiny hands on the back of my head stroking my hair. She gently pressed her cheek into mine and patted my face, and my heart broke inside thinking of the fact that she had just lost her parents a few days before.
We asked the orphanage to get an immediate MRI, which they had done within 24 hours. Yuan will be traveling to Shanghai next week to meet Dr. Buckmiller to see what can possibly be done for her. She will most likely meet Gong Lu. I hope if she does, Yuan will look into her eyes and recognize what HOPE looks like. It is my daily prayer now that Yuan’s story will have the same happy ending as Gong Lu.