Dong Zhang is a three year old boy from Gansu Province, China. His home is located in a remote area in Gansu province which is one of the poorest provinces in northwestern China and they face an adverse ecological environment — an acute shortage of water resources, sparse vegetation, and serious water and soil loss.
The only crop Dong’s family plants is wheat and they make about US $1,500 by selling wheat. There are 6 people in the family. The family members include Dong’s grandparents, his parents, his older sister and himself. His grandparents are about 60 years old and can only help do housework.The family’s house was built 30 years ago out of wood and mud.
Dong was born with a cleft lip, cleft palate and congenital heart disease. His family spent about US $2,000 for his cleft lip surgery in 2013. His father had a treatment at the hospital because he had a brain vessel stenosis problem about 3 years ago. The family borrowed money for his father’s medical treatment. It is too hard for them to afford Dong’s cleft palate and heart surgery.
He and his mother Xiao Hong arrived in Austin, TX April 16th. Dong had appointments Monday, April 18th, and Wednesday, April 20th. After the appointment on Wednesday, it was decided that he didn’t need a cath, so his surgery was scheduled for today, April 26th.
Dong Zhang had an appointment with his surgeon yesterday, April 25th, for pre-op examination and the surgery will be today at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
We found out from Dong’s father that Dong’s mother was afraid to travel alone to the US. She has never traveled alone even in China, so we can imagine how scared she was. Attached is a photo taken at Beijing airport. They do not look happy. Dong Zhang and his mother are now staying with a Chinese host family in Austin, Texas.
Even though they do not have the typical language barrier, it is still a big challenge for them to live in the US. The convenience brought by technology makes it possible for them to keep in touch with their family in China, so it may comfort them and they will hopefully not be very homesick. Even eight years ago, we had to mail photos to a patient’s family because they could not be reached by phone. What a big difference in Technology in a decade!
Update: May 24, 2016
Dong Zhang, had heart surgery in late April in Austin, TX. He was released from the hospital May 4th but two weeks later he was experiencing abdomenal pain. A hydrocele hernia was diagnosed. He had an outpatient procedure to correct this on May 18th.
He and his Mom returned to China today. They received many meals from people during their stay in TX and felt very cared for. Dong Zhang though it was fun to listen to the TV through the remote in the hospital bed.
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