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Sometimes people will contact me and they are 100% against international adoption. They say there is never a time that a child should leave their birth country. But comments like these, always make me think back to a baby named Melony, who was born with a genetic blood disorder called Thalassemia. When I first began doing medical work in China, I sent Melony’s files to many of the top hospitals there. Every doctor we contacted told me the same thing: “Thalassemia is a death sentence…..there is nothing that can be done” as people with Thalassemia often need to have frequent blood transfusions to stay healthy. However, overtime, iron will begin to build up in their blood, and if not removed, it will eventually cause organ damage. In fact, organ failure due to iron toxicity is the leading cause of death for kids with Thalassemia.However, When you remove the iron through chelation therapy, a person with Thalassemia can live a very long life. Unfortunately, chelation therapy is not available in most Chinese hospitals. We can arrange for a child to have blood transfusions to fight their anemia, but we cannot remove the iron from their blood. Ethically, we had to ask ourselves if it is even right to provide blood transfusions to an orphaned child, if ultimately we will be causing the child harm as the iron builds. It was because of this, tragically, little Melony was unable to get the medical care she needed, and she passed away at the age of 6.
For orphaned children born with Thalassemia, adoption is not only a way for them to have a family, but adoption is a way for them to have a chance at LIFE. So now, when we learn of a child like baby Wendy, whose orphanage called us when she became weak from her Thalassemia, we will admit them to our medical program under the condition that the orphanage will immediately file their paperwork for international adoption. Our hope is that a child will not have to go through more than a year of blood transfusions before they are adopted to the US, where they can then begin the essential chelation therapy as well.
Many orphanages are not aware that families are open to adopting children with Thalassemia. Just this past month we were contacted about a beautiful little boy who was diagnosed with this special need. When we told the orphanage our requirements for starting him on blood transfusions, they were doubtful that any family would step forward to adopt him. We assured them that through international adoption, this wonderful little boy can have a chance not only at a permanent family, but also the precious chance of a long and fulfilling life.
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