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Ailing orphans find haven in Shanghai (3)

By Shi Yingying in Shanghai (China Daily)

08:28, March 16, 2012

Half of the 12 babies at the Lupin Home are younger than one year, and the others are just a few months older than one. Many require feeding throughout the day and night because there are certain weight requirements for their surgeries.

"For example, a child has to weigh no less than 8 kilograms before having a first cleft lip and palate correction surgery. And most of our babies were as light as kittens when they first arrived here," Du said.

Seven care workers were hired to look after the babies around the clock, seven days a week.

Du said frightening experiences were never far away. "I've seen babies choking, having seizures, and fainting in the middle of the meal or out of the blue. And I know what it's like to have your hand ready to grab the phone all night as you wait for a call from the hospital," she said. "Fortunately, we haven't lost any of them, and we've all become half doctor by now."

A care supervisor surnamed Huang, who has been with the Lupin Home since it opened, said she had to get used to looking after four sick babies after caring for a healthy one.

"There are certain rules you have to learn to help them feel better, like slow down the feeding for babies with congenital heart disease, and give them more meals a day but less food per meal," Huang said. "And we need to be particularly careful that anyone with any sign of flu doesn't enter the home to avoid infecting the children."

Du's biggest wish is to see all of these babies get better and find adoptive families before they are one year old, because up to then, babies don't remember much.

"I don't want them to remember us because if they do, they'd feel like they were being abandoned a second time when they left to live with their new families," she said. "The good news is that half of our angels have already found, or are about to find, arrangements for new adoptive families."

The Lupin Home makes a "memory card" recording every milestone in the babies' lives. "Little things like the date of a child's first smile or first word are written down in a notebook that goes with them to their new families," she said.

"The idea was inspired by what I did with my own child. We kept tracking every moment of his life. We wanted the same thing for the Lupin Home babies."


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