The Twins Have Arrived!
We are so happy to report that Harley and James, the conjoined twins from Guizhou province, have now arrived in Shanghai for their upcoming (and very complex) separation surgery. It has most definitely been a long journey for them, with a lot of unexpected twists.
Over Chinese New Year, the twins’ parents went back to their home village high up in the mountains, and a major snowstorm blocked the roads out and delayed their travel back.
Then they missed the train they were supposed to take to Shanghai, and with all train seats sold out for the next week due to the spring festival, there was a brief panic over whether they would make it to the hospital in time for their pre-op appointments.
Thankfully, we were able to get them on a flight instead, which ended up being quite the adventure as it was the first time they had ever traveled by plane.
Any parent who understands how difficult it can be to travel with one child on your lap in those narrow plane seats can imagine that it was doubly difficult to figure out how to hold the twins on the flight. The parents and grandma took 20-minute shifts trying to keep the babies comfortable on their laps. We are just giving lots of thanks that everyone is safely at the hospital now!
Today was the first day our team was able to meet with the family since the final needed funds for their operation were raised. All of us at LWB have been humbled, amazed, and honestly in awe of the outpouring of support from around the world for these beautiful babies. As messages of hope and support have come in from the US, Europe, and Asia, it has been the most beautiful thing to watch unfold.
We recently received a photo of little girls in Ireland who came together to each knit one red square for the babies. They then combined the squares into a special China blanket which they are auctioning off this weekend in Ireland to raise additional support for the family.
Our hospital manager in Shanghai printed out a copy of the photo of these Irish girls and had it laminated for the hospital room wall. Today, the parents looked at every face in the photo and discussed how some of the children look like they are of European descent, some of Indian descent, and some of Chinese descent. The rural parents were surprised that children of different ethnic backgrounds were all together in one classroom, and they were amazed by how children from so far away knew about their boys and wanted to reach out to help them. What an encouragement for this beautiful family!
LWB volunteer Sherri Cox showed the family the GoFundMe page set up on their behalf and talked to the parents about the hundreds of people from all over the world who had donated funds for the surgery. This deeply affected them, and they became quiet while the realization sank in that so many people whom they have never met truly care about their family and want the best for their twins.
We are thankful that the twins were put into a private room at the hospital (a true rarity) because their uniqueness has caused a steady stream of strangers to come in and see them. It is actually quite difficult for the parents to get both of the babies to sleep at the same time.
A lot of the time, the babies hold hands, but many times they are often flailing a hand into the other’s face or sticking a finger in the other’s eye or mouth. So the parents being able to soothe them both to sleep at the same time is a real accomplishment! Unfortunately, the constant stream of curious visitors coming in and talking loudly caused one baby to wake up who would then wake the other.
We wonder what these little boys will think once they are no longer joined together.
Once separated, we hope that they will be able to sleep more easily. Right now it is close quarters for everyone in the hospital room, with Grandma and Dad sharing the single hospital bed with the twins, and Mom sleeping on the chair.
The hospital surgeons will be meeting this week to come up a very detailed surgery plan for the boys. As long as the boys remain in good health, surgery is scheduled for February 24th.
We hope everyone reading this blog today knows that it was only because of your outpouring of kindness that any of this is possible for the family. This support represents true love in action – from all around the world – and we are so very grateful.