Li Li today, at age 19
Li Li lives with her mother and younger brother in one of the poorest places in China, Cang Yuan County in Yunnan Province. In her town, farming families live in bamboo huts without running water or electricity and have yearly incomes of a few hundred dollars. In 2012, at the age of 15, Li Li lost her father to severe pancreatic disease. That same year, her heart disease (mitral stenosis and regurgitation) began to get worse. Soon, she could only walk a few steps before becoming short of breath, and she could no longer attend school.
Staff of the China California Heart Watch first met Li Li in 2012, when visiting her hometown. At the time, it was easy to see that Li Li had only about a year to live if nothing was done to correct her heart defects. The China California Heart Watch referred Li Li to a famous cardiac surgeon, Professor An Qi at Cheng Du West China Hospital, and through the generous support of our donors, we were able to fund her surgery.
Professor An replaced her deformed valve with a prosthesis. Unfortunately, however, that was only the beginning. A few days after her surgery, Li Li developed a fever. Tests showed that she had an infection on her new valve. Upon hearing this news, China California Heart Watch staff immediately flew to Cheng Du and met with Professor An and the infectious disease team at West China Hospital. Antibiotic treatment was started and continued for six weeks to rid her body and her new valve of the infection. Six weeks later, Li Li returned to her home town in Cang Yuan County with her mother and brother. Today, Li Li travels two hours every week to the country hospital for blood tests, so she can regulate her blood thinning medicine.
Li Li returned to school and China Cal visited in Cang Yuan County Hospital last month. We learned that Li Li can now climb the stairs at school and help her mother with house and garden work. The local Federation for Disabled Persons helps her family. She studies hard every day, and she wants to attend university and become a doctor.
Who made this possible? You, our supporters and donors, gave this bright girl the chance to be healthy. She now has hope, and she wishes to serve her country and other children in the future. Please keep helping the China California Heart Watch in its efforts to bring attention to and reduce the suffering of children living with heart disease in Yunnan.