Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on October 30, 2012

Labels: China , Health Care Education, Health Systems Strengthening, Women’s and Children’s Health

The Shanghai Children's Medical Center (SCMC) was a setting of joy on Sunday morning. The Project HOPE flag was flying, and the bust of Dr. William Walsh, the founder of HOPE, sat impressively on the lawn. So much has taken place at the SCMC, with the support of Project HOPE, since it was opened in 1998. 

Dr. Ji Quinying, Pfizer Fellow Tanya Owens, Dr. Howe and Tyrrell Flawn

Dr. Ji Qingying, the hospital's Vice President and recently-recognized as the #1 social worker in China, greeted us along with Lily Hsu, the Shanghai Program Director for HOPE. We were soon to experience the impact of one of HOPE's great strengths: its volunteers. 

We met Tanya Owens, a leader in the Worldwide Research and Development Division of Pfizer and a current Pfizer Global Health Fellow with HOPE. During the past three months at the SCMC, she has created an on-line training program for community-based pediatricians, which will soon be available in all 31 provinces in China, through HOPE. 

Before he recently died of a brain tumor at just 30 years old, Ian Hanks created a fund to support children who require heart surgery at the SCMC, but whose parents are unable to afford it. He had become aware of this need through Tyrrell Flawn's mother in Austin. 

Tyrrell Flawn, Maomao and his mother

One of his beneficiaries was little Maomao, whom we met in the Heart Tower at the SCMC. His parents brought him to the SCMC as a "blue baby," after his local doctor had told them that this was the "only place that could save his life." Their trip to Shanghai by train took them 27 hours. 

On the day of his arrival, he was diagnosed with "transposition of the great arteries," requiring immediate surgery. His operation was followed by two months in the intensive care unit. He was then moved to an acute care ward, where we saw him doing well. 

Thanks to these two HOPE volunteers, Tanya and Ian, pediatricians will be trained and a little boy will enjoy a new life. The Shanghai Children's Medical Center was truly a setting of joy on this Sunday morning!

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