Love For Luna
Last fall, we were contacted about an eight-month-old baby girl with severe congenital heart disease. Her orphanage had recently sent her to Beijing, but doctors there felt there was nothing that could be done surgically for her.
Luna, as she came to be known, was suffering from repeated bouts of respiratory infections and pneumonia, and it was clear that without something being done quickly, she would not survive.
LWB was able to arrange for her to be seen by the heart surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the top pediatric heart centers in the world. In November, Luna underwent a heart catheterization which showed she had pulmonary atresia, VSD, gross aorta pulmonary collateral vessels, permanent left superior vena cava, and dextroaortic arch. That was certainly a lot for a tiny heart just larger than a strawberry. Sadly, following the heart cath, Luna went into distress and had to be moved to the ICU for recovery.
After examining Luna’s test results, doctors decided that she needed a BT shunt surgery, which is done to increase a baby’s pulmonary blood flow. It is often the procedure done to “buy time” for a child, allowing them to gain strength and prepare for a more complex corrective surgery. This procedure was critical for Luna as her oxygen levels were only 60% of what they should be, and she had frequent periods of cyanosis.
Right as she was scheduled for surgery however, Luna took a turn for the worse, developing pneumonia yet again. She had to be placed on a ventilator in the ICU, and there were many days when we thought we were going to lose her. This is when Luna earned her nickname of “Luna the Lionhearted,” as this tiny warrior rallied and was finally able to be removed from the vent.
Doctors felt they had a very narrow window of opportunity to perform her surgery, and on December 2, 2015, the BT shunt was done. The surgery took an enormous toll on her tiny body, however, and later that afternoon Luna went into cardiac arrest. Doctors rushed in to revive her, but we were warned that we needed to prepare for the news no one ever wants to hear.
A week went by with Luna still on the ventilator, then ten days, then fifteen. We all began worrying about whether she would find the strength to finally come off the machine. Three weeks after her surgery though, on Christmas Eve, little Luna successfully began breathing on own!
But her struggle to recover was far from over.
January passed with Luna in and out of the ICU. In February we thought she was getting very close to being discharged, but then she contracted RSV and ended back up on the ventilator again. On one particularly stressful day, our hospital manager was even given the end-of-life preparation discussion, as she was just so fragile. But Luna the Lionhearted showed her strong will to live yet again. This past weekend, she was able to leave the ICU and now has oxygen levels in the 80s and rosy little lips.
Luna’s orphanage is thankfully now willing to file her paperwork for adoption, but we all know that she needs specialized heart care to keep her safe and stable until a family can be found to bring her home. We are thrilled that the wonderful people at Morning Star Foundation in Beijing have saved an open bed for baby Luna.
Our manager in Shanghai, a wonderful man named Mr. Wang, arranged for twelve portable oxygen bags for the train ride, and he practiced using them with Luna.
They have timed it precisely and know she will have enough oxygen to last her 400 minutes. He and Luna’s nanny will travel together with her, and Morning Star will have oxygen waiting for her when she arrives. We are happy to report that Luna has arrived safe and sound to Morningstar where she has been welcomed into their family with open arms!
Sherri Cox, one of our dedicated volunteers in Shanghai, visited Luna at the hospital one last time before her journey. We thought her words were so poignant:
“Today as I held Luna, I could still hear her struggle to breathe. I held her for a long time and didn’t want to let her go.
My first visit with Luna was four months ago today. On November 6, I would have found it hard to believe that Luna would still be hospitalized on March 6. Every time I have stepped inside of the hospital since that first visit, I have either visited her or thought of her lying close by in ICU. Her nanny dressed Luna in the new clothes she bought her for her trip to Beijing. She wanted me to see how well they fit and how thick and well-made they are. The yellow outfit is beautiful and will keep Luna very warm. Wen Ayi also wanted me to know that Luna will travel with many oxygen bags.
When I finally said goodbye to Wen Ayi and Luna, Wen Ayi started crying. I could understand. For the past four months, we have shared laughs and tears together, as we have loved and cared for Luna.”
The children we help in China come into our hands sometimes for a week and sometimes for many years. We consider it a true honor to be given the opportunity to care for them. When they are with us, we do everything in our power to make sure they feel cherished and loved, and none of it is possible without the incredible support from people like you.
Thank you for believing in Luna and lifting her up during her illnesses and surgery. Her time at the hospital has come toan end, and it is now time for us to transfer her with love to another set of waiting hands.
We know that she will bring true blessings to everyone at Morning Star now.
So far, this has been such a miraculous journey for one tiny baby, with thousands of people cheering for her around the world. Luna the Lionhearted – we stand in hope that the next chapter of your life is going to be an amazing one.