Stories of the Heart: Mason
When I first walked into our China Healing Home to meet its precious little residents, it was a Wednesday morning in early December — time now forever marked in my mind as “pre-coronavirus”. The sun was shining through the window, and a nanny introduced me to each of the children one by one. I was excited to meet all of the children who are cared for so lovingly in this home, but I was especially looking forward to seeing Baby Mason, a brand new 6-month-old arrival to our home with a very broken heart.
I had seen Mason’s intake photos and reviewed his medical reports — weights and measurements that sounded so very tiny on paper. In person, he was even smaller than I had imagined.
His nanny brought me over to his crib where he had just woken up from a nap, eyes alert and searching the room as he heard us enter. Mason was so small, so frail, but as he grasped the single finger I held out to him, so much fierce will and fight filled this sweet boy’s face.
His little forehead wrinkled as he realized that I wasn’t the one holding the bottle he was hoping for, so his nanny quickly whisked him into her arms. She carefully fed him, ounce by ounce, and we hoped he would gain as much weight as he could for the heart surgery necessary to save his little life.
It’s a constant tightrope walk of sorts with these braveheart kids. We must get them as strong and healthy as possible before surgery, but until they have that surgery…their version of “strong and healthy” can only be taken so far.
Mason had completely stolen all of our hearts. Our team unanimously agreed that he would be the face of our Giving Tuesday campaign to raise the funds needed to bring him hope and healing.
We know Baby Mason stole your hearts as well, because less than 24 hours after sharing his story, his surgery was fully funded. HOPE was fully possible. We were unspeakably grateful and excited for his chance for surgery, for health, and for a future.
Mason’s surgeons carefully reviewed his case and decided they wanted him to gain just a little bit more weight so that he could go into surgery as strong and healthy as possible. We agreed, and the plan was made that soon after the new year, Mason could receive his repair.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Word of a brand new respiratory virus began to spread, and with it, plans began to cancel. Hopes began to change. Surgeries were all put on hold until further notice. The fight for Mason’s life now turned from “getting him to surgery as quickly as possible” to “keep him as healthy and strong and stable as possible until surgeries can happen once again”.
The timing was uncertain, but this little boy fought so hard and remained strong throughout the last several months. After weathering the coronavirus storm, some hospitals in China have slowly reopened and are operating again. This week, the news came we had all been waiting for: “Mason can come for surgery now. He’s ready.”
He’s ready. We’re ready. Our LWB community paved the way to make this heart-healing possible, and his surgical team is ready to finish strong.
This story doesn’t come without risks — of infection, of complications, of so many unknowns — but we know that hope is worth the cost and the fight. Every single day of Mason’s little life has been full of hope for this surgery day, and we are grateful that his chance to heal has arrived.
~Meredith Toering is LWB’s Director of International Cardiac Care