“The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility.” – Angus Buchan
‘No hope’. This is what Connie’s doctor said, in English, to Karen. The tumor that was growing in Connie’s kidney had become so large that it was pressing on her other organs and causing internal bleeding. The hospital had hoped to be able to do chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumor first before operating, but it was too late for that. Connie needed a miracle, and soon.
One-year-old Connie had arrived into New Day’s care just two weeks earlier, on March 26, only nine days after she had been found at the gate of her local orphanage. Her abdomen was very swollen from the large growth in her kidney, and she had needed a blood transfusion before she traveled so that she would be stable enough to survive the journey. We hoped that chemotherapy would be able to shrink the tumor before she had surgery; just three days after she arrived, however, she began to bleed. We took her in to the hospital, and could see that she was in a lot of pain.
A blood test showed that her blood platelet levels were dangerously low, so low that it is amazing that she survived. She needed to be admitted to the ICU, but there was no bed available so they gave her a blood transfusion and kept her in the emergency room for observation. When the doctor examined her the next day, he kept on saying how serious her condition was; she needed to be stable enough for chemotherapy and surgery in order to have a chance of surviving. All they could do was continue giving her blood transfusions.
Then Connie vomited blood, and there was still no bed available for her in the ICU. It was at this point that the doctor told Karen that there was ‘no hope’. We knew that her impossible situation was a condition for a great miracle! Yet we had to make a difficult decision – to do another blood transfusion, or bring her back to New Day and just hold her? Eventually we were able to make contact with the surgeon who had successfully operated on another New Day child with the same kind of tumor, and she was willing to attempt a surgery, even though she warned that it would be very high risk. Connie was moved to the surgical ward.
Connie was in such good hands. The medical team decided not to attempt to remove the tumor at this stage because she was too unstable, and instead performed a less risky procedure to cut off the blood supply to the kidney where the tumor was growing. This was urgently needed because the tumor was growing so fast, increasing by 2 cm in just two days. The surgery went well, and Connie was eventually transferred to the ICU after a long wait in the operating room because a bed was still not available. At this point it was a miracle that Connie was still alive, when the doctor that had examined her earlier had warned us that she would probably not survive the day, but she still urgently needed to have the tumor removed. They were not able to take her off the ventilator because the tumor was making it hard for her to breathe. Surgery was scheduled, but blood tests showed that she had an infection and her platelet count was too low.
Through the Easter weekend, which happened to coincide with a Chinese holiday, Connie remained on the ventilator in the ICU, stable but sometimes running a low fever. On Wednesday 8 April, Connie went into the operating room and underwent a three-and-a-half hour surgery to remove the 1.2 kg tumor. It was successful; they saw that the massive tumor had ruptured, which is what had been causing her internal bleeding. After almost a week, Connie was finally able to come off the ventilator, and a few days later she was transferred out of the ICU onto a regular ward.
Connie still has a long road of recovery ahead of her, and has started chemotherapy. But she is alive, and her life is already proof of what can happen when we refuse to accept ‘no hope’ as a prognosis.