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The Angel in the Airport

June 25, 2014

Starbucks-beijingHe spotted us in Starbucks at the Beijing airport.

Mom, Dad, Grace, Haven, and I were sitting in there last month enjoying a quick bite to eat before boarding the flight that would take us back home to the U.S.

He was Caucasian.  So he, like us, stood out among the crowd.

He walked right up to us.

He had a big smile on his face, and he seemed drawn to Haven and to Grace.  We soon found out why that was the case.

He, too, had adopted two children from China.  Two girls.

We also learned that he, too, was from Central Indiana.  (What are the chances, people?!?!)  He was preparing to catch the same flight to Detroit as us.  And he would be flying from Detroit to Indianapolis on the same flight as well.

Furthermore, we learned that he had traveled to Beijing to assist in heart surgeries for several Chinese children.  He told us that he works as a cardiologist at Riley Hospital.  Upon finding out that he was a physician at the hospital where we would most likely be taking Haven for treatment, I told him what we knew about Haven’s condition.  He assured us that we would be in good hands at Riley.

Bumping into this gentleman was a very pleasant surprise.  He was so friendly and kind.

Just before we parted ways, he handed me his business card.  He had scribbled his email address on the card for me.  He told me that if I ever needed him, I should contact him.  I thanked him, and I tucked the card away in a safe place.

For weeks, that card sat tucked away.  Untouched.

But, last Thursday afternoon, I pulled it out.  I was in need of help, and I remembered his promise to help us if we ever needed it.

So, I sat down at my computer and began composing an email to him.

This was my message:


Good afternoon, Dr. S!

It was so nice to bump into you in Beijing last month.  I hope that the jet lag wasn’t too brutal for you upon returning home.  It took us a good week to get back to feeling normal again!

I’m writing to you today because I am looking for any help that I can get in trying to get our son in to see Dr. Dimeglio at Riley.  

Just two weeks after returning home from China, Haven was standing at his older brother’s train table – bearing weight on his legs – when his right leg buckled and literally snapped in two.  Broken femur.
It had to be surgically set/casted at Riley the following morning.  We were just sick about all of it.
While at Riley we learned that his leg had suffered TWO other previous breaks. Imagine my shock when I heard this news…..after being ASSURED by his orphanage that he had never broken a bone!!!  At the same time, we were counting our blessings.  Apparently, that leg was a ticking time bomb due to the extreme curve toward the top of his femur.  It could have snapped at any time in China.  What in the world would we have done if it had?  I have thanked God numerous times for preventing that from happening.
At his follow-up appointment a few days later, they did x-rays of his entire body.  They discovered NINE other previous breaks.  (Can you believe that?  Again – we were just sick.)  That day, I met with the orthopedic surgeon who performed Haven’s surgery – Dr. Gantsoudes.  I really liked him, and I pounded him with questions.  I was basically BEGGING him for help/direction.  He informed me that Haven’s left leg will most likely fracture just as his right leg did because it, too, has a big curve toward the top.  Weight bearing could cause it to snap….but weight bearing is also what causes bones to strengthen.  This leaves us in a pretty bad spot.  The very thing that can help strengthen his legs could also cause another break.  
He said that infusions are most  likely in Haven’s future.  I said fine.  And I immediately asked, “When can we start???”  Because, after all, this child has been without care/treatment and proper nutrition for two full years of life.  Why make him wait a day longer for those infusions???
He said he would refer us to Linda Dimeglio (a pediatric endocrinologist) and she would oversee his care.  He assured me that Haven would be in good hands with her, and that we would be called back within a week by her office to set up an appointment as soon as possible.  Well, this Monday, I heard back from them.  They told me that the the earliest appointment they have open for him would be SEPTEMBER 8TH!!!!  I burst into tears when I heard that.  Right there on the phone, I had a breakdown.  After two weeks of holding myself together since Haven’s terrible injury, I finally crumbled into a mess.  I told them that was unacceptable, and gave them my best plea on his behalf. I also reminded them that this child has been without care/treatment for two years, and now he is being told to wait over two more months to begin treatment. But, it didn’t get me anywhere. The best we can hope for now is a cancellation from someone else that allows Haven’s appointment to be moved up. We are praying for that to happen.
I’m writing to you tonight because I’m trying to do anything I can to get Haven started on a treatment plan as soon as possible.  Yesterday, I remembered that you had given me your card at the airport.  So, I figured that it was worth a shot to contact you!  I don’t know if you would be comfortable with contacting Dr. Dimeglio directly and explaining Haven’s unique situation.  I know you understand the plight of these adopted children from China…and the lack of medical care that they receive over there.  I thought you might be able to get through to her.  The fact is, Haven isn’t a child who has grown up in the loving/nurturing/caring environment of a family….with medical care and good nutrition since birth.  My guess is that the other OI children in the pipeline there at Riley waiting to see Dr. Dimeglio have all had that luxury.  My feeling is that this is just a first-come/first-served type of a deal….without any regard to the urgency of each child’s case. 
Haven should have started infusions months ago – as an infant.  Here he is – a toddler – and he is being told to wait 2 1/2 more months to even be seen by a doctor for testing.  (And who knows how long it will take for the actual infusions to begin after the testing takes place.)  
As you can tell, we are quite frustrated.  And we are saddened for Haven.  We are also afraid that even though this spica cast of his comes off next week, we will soon be in there again for another.  We feel like we aren’t doing anything for him except providing him with love and nutrition. While those things can work wonders, we also know that there are treatments available for him that would target the true issue at hand here.  But, we are stuck in a pipeline – waiting for those treatments to start.
Any help – any help at all – that you can provide for us would be greatly appreciated.  Things were going SOOO well with Haven’s transition!  Then, this injury happened.  These past two weeks have been very tiring and very trying for us.  We are hanging in there, and Haven has handled most of it with that beautiful smile on his face.  But, something needs to be done.  We are in need of someone to tell us what to do – how to do it – when to do it – where to go – etc.  
We have also been told by friends/family that we need to look into St. V’s or Cincinnati Children’s.  We are hearing good things about both of those places.  We are fine with going wherever.  We just need to know who to contact….and how to convey to them the urgency of Haven’s situation.  Maybe some doctors out there don’t see his situation as urgent.  But, as his parents, we certainly do.  I know you understand this feeling.  Our pediatrician is also on the case.  I have asked her to speak with endocrinology directly as well.  But, I wanted to contact you, too.
If I don’t get anywhere within this next week, I will begin making calls to St. V’s and Cincinnati Children’s.  I already have a few numbers lined up and ready to call….I’m just holding out hope that somehow we can still get him worked in at Riley.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.  Honestly, I feel badly about contacting you!  I know you are a very busy man, and we aren’t patients of yours.  But, I don’t know what else to do.
Hope you and your girls are doing great!
Have a wonderful weekend!

As you can probably tell from this message, last week was not a good one for us.  We were so incredibly discouraged to hear the news that Haven wouldn’t be able to get in to see a specialist until September.  We simply couldn’t believe that he would have to wait that long to begin his much-needed treatment plan.  Since Haven’s accident, I had been able to hold myself together pretty well.  But, once I heard that news last week, I couldn’t do it any longer.  I crumbled.

But, after one full afternoon of pity partying around the house, I sucked it up and got back to work.  September 8th was simply unacceptable.  And I needed to do something about it.

I contacted everyone that I could think of who could possibly help us.  Many were willing to help, but, unfortunately, no one was able to make any progress.  Dead ends.

So, I wrote down the phone numbers of some contacts at St. V’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that had been given to me from a friend.  I told myself that if I couldn’t make any progress with Riley, I would start looking elsewhere.

Then, last Friday night, the most incredible little message popped up in my inbox. That cardiologist – that angel from the airport – had replied to my message.

This was his reply:


Hello Carly,
It certainly was great meeting you and your family on our way back from China.   I’m so sorry to hear that Haven had a fracture.  I am also very sorry to find out you are having such a hard time to be seen in the endocrinology clinic!
I will contact Dr Dimeglio to make sure your son will be seen earlier!
Can you please e-mail me his full name and birthdate as well as your phone number so that Dr Dimeglio’s office can schedule him and contact you?
If you don’t hear from her office by Monday, please call me to make sure I don’t drop the ball.
BTW- have you already been evaluated by Dr Hamby in the International Adoption Clinic?
I will contact Dr Dimeglio as soon as I have your son’s complete contact information.
I couldn’t believe it.
Bryan couldn’t believe it.
I re-read the message three times.
It was nothing short of an answer to prayer.
But, could he really do it?  Could he talk the endocrinologist into moving Haven’s appointment up sooner?
Yesterday, we found out that he could.  And he did.
I spoke to him on the phone yesterday afternoon, and he said that he had spoken to the endocrinologist this weekend. He said that she is going to try to work Haven into her schedule either later this month or early July.  Such awesome, awesome news!  And we are just SO happy for Haven.
I headed to bed last night praising God for going ahead of us and crossing our path with the path of someone who could help Haven….far before we even knew that the help would be needed.
First on my to-do list for today was to put together a stellar gift basket to send to a very special cardiologist at Riley Hospital.
An angel, indeed.

His picnic-themed gift basket includes tickets to Symphony on the Prairie (thanks to my friend, Brandy), four insulated cups, four plates, a citronella candle, forks, spoons, meal containers, roasted almonds, and dark chocolate pecan cookies. It also includes a gift card from Starbucks….in honor of our little encounter there.




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