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Some Heartening News
July 12, 2006
Brecken Swartz
Ever since Zhou Lin's foot amputation surgery a couple weeks ago, her doctors have been concerned about her left foot stump, which has a darkened area that likely indicates poor venous return of blood to her heart (a result of blood vessels damaged in the fire). The two choices discussed with us so far have been: a) for the dark area of the stump to slough off and be re-grafted with new skin, or b) for Zhou Lin to have to undergo a new amputation beneath the knee. In the interest of helping the left leg along, we've been doing everything in our power to help stimulate circulation -- Chinese qigong (energy work including massage, visualization, and concentrated breathing), physical therapy exercises, and even having her drink pomegranate juice for its good effects on building strong blood vessels.

I am happy to report that I just got this email from the surgical fellow who has been keeping a close eye on Zhou Lin's foot:

"Dr Grottkau saw Zhou Lin yesterday and appeared to be quite satisfied with her progress. I am not sure what happened in the last two days but it appears that it might have got better. If it is so, I am glad to hear that."

Zhou Lin's next surgery (on her perineal area) is scheduled for this Friday. The surgeon had ordered a careful MRI because apparently her burns in that area are severe and make her anatomy rather unclear. She had tried her first MRI last Friday but became nauseous, so they had to abort the procedure. We tried the MRI again today (with sedation this time), and everything went fine. Zhou Lin has become very good about doing her qigong breathing exercises and is able to relax herself and warm various parts of her body when she needs to.

For such a young girl, Zhou Lin is learning very quickly. She is reading simple English words with increasing ease, and she has been the enjoying music therapy and craft activities with the other kids in the hospital, such as sand painting and stringing beads. Shriners is truly the most amazing hospital -- the nurses call it the "Disneyworld of hospitals" for its ideal working conditions -- and we really are getting excited to try to find a way to open a scaled-down version in China someday. Local Boston musicians have been coming forward to donate songs for our proposed CD project (and perhaps a benefit concert in conjunction with our art auction in August), and Chinese researchers at Shriners are starting to find their way to our room to discuss getting things under way in China. I recently received an email from the Chairman of the Board at Shriners Headquarters, who has committed all the expertise we need to staff and run hospitals in the developing world. It seems like the will, the resources, and the knowledge are in place, so all we need now are time, effort, and lots of money.

The surgery on Zhou Lin's perineum will likely be extensive and painful this Friday, so please keep her in your prayers!

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