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20 Years of Hope: Yong

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A little over ten years ago, the director of an orphanage in rural China reached out to LWB for assistance. A boy in their care was suffering from a fast-growing facial tumor that was affecting his ability to swallow, chew, and breathe. His name was Yong.

Boy with large facial tumor sitting on chair

Yong underwent a battery of tests, and much to our relief, his tumor was thankfully benign. Still, multiple hospitals in China told Yong’s orphanage director that the mass was just too complex for surgery.

Boy with large facial tumor eating with chopsticks

Knowing that there was a very real possibility that the tumor could soon close off Yong’s airway, LWB shared his story with the world in hopes that a hospital overseas would be willing and able to help.

Boy with large facial tumor in hospital

The world responded in a big way! Suggestions came pouring in, and we contacted many hospitals about the possibility of taking Yong’s case. Sadly, most hospitals echoed the opinion that operating on Yong’s tumor would be much too complicated. But one hospital in Los Angeles accepted Yong for care if we could raise $100,000 for his operation. We decided to step forward in faith and began to fundraise.

LWB, along with the House of Destiny, began sharing that little Yong needed a miracle. In an incredible outpouring of support, the full amount for his surgery was raised in just a few weeks! Thousands of people stepped forward to help Yong, with some of the most touching donations coming from children who had emptied their piggy banks or sent us their birthday money in hopes of helping this one precious child.

Boy with large facial tumor playing with pinwheel

Several weeks later, we received entirely unexpected, heartbreaking news. Due to a new national policy involving orphaned children leaving the country, Yong’s medical visa would not be issued. He would not be able to travel to the US for surgery.

Devastated, our volunteers wrote to every donor, relaying the terrible news with a sincere apology and an offer to refund their donation. People responded with tremendous kindness and understanding, and nearly everyone asked us to keep their funds and help the next child waiting for medical care. So many children were helped as a result. There truly is goodness in the world!

Closeup of boy with large facial tumor

Amy Eldridge, LWB’s CEO, flew to China as soon as she heard the news that Yong could not travel for surgery. She met with government officials, local doctors, and orphanage staff to come up with a plan for helping Yong. They all realized that Yong’s best chance for healing would be a permanent family with access to quality medical care — a family who could stand with him during the complex and possibly lifelong interventions that he would need.

Boy with large facial tumor gives peace sign

Yong’s adoption paperwork was quickly assembled and submitted to the national government. At the same time, an amazing family stepped forward to fully commit to Yong’s adoption. Before long, Yong was on his way to the United States surrounded by his loving permanent family.

In an incredible twist of fate, Yong ended up living in Los Angeles, where he underwent surgery by the same medical team and hospital that had originally offered to accept him!

Boy with large facial tumor eating lollipop in airport

We recently received an update on Yong from his mother. Now 16 years old, he is a “straight A” student. He loves school and wants to study medicine with the goal of becoming a doctor. Although Yong is a confident young man, he remains self-conscious about the appearance of his face. His mother has wisely advised that anyone can see that he has been through some kind of trauma. Most people are very understanding of his appearance.

Yong’s sisters are naturally very protective of him. Four of his sisters were adopted from China, and three were residents of our China Healing Home!

Four girls sit on steps with their brother

Yong has joined a gym and works out regularly because it is important to him to be strong. He has a cousin named Ty, another prior resident of our China Healing Home, and the two boys are inseparable and in constant communication. When he’s playing video games online with Ty, Yong’s mom says that his booming voice rocks the whole house! A typical teenager, his favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs, and he would eat that every night if he could.

Yong has been participating in a trial for a new medication that stops the mutation of the gene that can cause his tumors to grow rapidly. The medication has now been FDA-approved — and it’s working! Still, he has some difficult surgeries ahead on his upper and lower jaws. We would certainly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for Yong as he undergoes and recovers from these painful operations.

Yong’s story is just one example of the good that can result from the kindness and generosity of people coming together to help children in need. He is the perfect embodiment of our belief that Every Child Counts, and we are forever grateful to everyone in our community who has cheered him on along the way.

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