Eric Lazar, MD

China: April 2014

 An April visit to the Women's and Children's Hospital of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China illustrates both the contribution and limits of charitable work in a developing medical system. When our group, the Children of China Pediatrics, first came to this hospital four years ago, it was a new facility that consolidated four other children'ss wards or hospitals. In the intervening time, the hospital has earned the trust of the community and is now heavily utilized with over two million outpatient visits and twenty thousand deliveries per year. Despite this remarkable utilization, the availability of treatment to those who cannot pay remains severely limited. Our role has been to work with both private and provincial local orphanages to provide surgical services to those children without families and accordingly resources to care for surgical conditions.

 On this particular visit, we helped 39 such children as well as provided rehabilitation evaluations and plans to orphaned children without surgical problems. This included prescribed exercises and orthotics which were made on site to assist in ambulation and rehabilitation. The rehabilitation portion of the program helped over 100 children whose limb and spinal deformities have severely limited their ability to walk. Independence in daily activities is a huge milestone for these children and their care givers. I was privileged to help two children who had previously had anal reconstructions have their colostomies closed, provided gastrostomies to for nourishment to two children who cannot eat without choking, removed a large abdominal tumor from a child who also lost one leg due to a tumor, and helped a young girl who had fused fingers on both her hands and could not use her hands at all. She can now hold chopsticks and toys for the first time at age 8½.