On my trips to several third world countries, it is the images of the disabled children and adults who haunt me the most. Life is hard enough when you live in poverty, but it is even harder when you are disadvantaged by a mental or physical disability. To often disabled children are abandoned or hidden away, only to become beggars on the street if they survive. Thankfully this has not been the case for Vanessa however without treatment her life will be very limited. The frustrating thing is that Blount's disease is something that we don't see much of in the United States. That is because if Vanessa had been born in the US she would have received braces and therapy to correct her legs as a toddler age child. If that did not work she would have received surgery as a young child. These things are not options in Haiti where even basic medical care is a privilege. And so it is that Vanessa at age 9 has never known anything other then her physical disability. From the loving care that she has received at Maison orphanage she is now stronger then she was in June and is actually walking on her bowed legs. This not at all ideal however. The amount of pressure that is placed on her hip and knee joints is causing damage and I am told that at some point she will no longer be able to continue walking. If she gets much older it will be to late to perform the needed surgery to straighten her legs and reconstruct her knees. Even now at this age the corrections from the surgery may not be permanent, but the sooner the surgery is performed the more likely that it will be successful.
So here is where you and I come into play. When we met Vanessa in June we approached with a offer to FHG that we were ready, willing and able to care for and house Vanessa should she be able to come to the US for surgery. We live about one hour from the Denver Children's Hospital and work even closure. A physician was contacted at Children's, then the appropriate committee and one thing after another fell into place. We even have a organization that has a refurbished wheelchair picked out and waiting for Vanessa. We bought another bed at our house, picked up some more girl clothes and talked to our kids. Over the course of the last 7 months everything has been prepared for Vanessa to receive this life changing surgery.
|Image from Angie K at Vanessa's 9th birthday in Haiti|