Sunday, March 15, 2015

helping babies breath and hope for Miriam

by joi
Miriam sits in her chair for the first time.

This weekend we have had the pleasure of hosting Dr Amy Rule and her husband, speech therapist Woody. Currently they work at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya long term and specialize in people with disabilities in the developing world. When we heard they were nearby (4 hour drive) we invited them to come help train our clinic staff in the area of neo-natal resuscitation. Amy teaches a short class called "Helping Babies Breath" that uses really amazing simulated babies! Created by a toy company in Sweden, these babies are made of plastic and filled with water. When filled they feel amazingly similar to a floppy newborn baby, and weigh about the same amount!

Woody provided consultations for several of the kids here who have stutters or other speech issues. Our W. still can't really say her "L's" and Woody assured me it's not an issue to be concerned with at all until about 7 years of age.

In addition, and maybe most exciting of all, Dr Rule was able to evaluate one of our kids, 10 year old Miriam, who has been walking on her knees all her life. It appears she had clubbed foot at birth and it was never treated. She has no mother, and her father has sent her here to City of Hope to be taken care of and go to school. She was unable to attend the local school because the kids were just too cruel to her. She is a beautiful girl, with a constant smile and tenacious spirit!

Dr Rule assessed her and believes that it's possible that she is a candidate for surgery and physical therapy which will lead to her being able to walk on her feet. Imagine going from a lifetime of crawling on your knees to standing tall among your peers! This is a huge game changer for Miriam!

We found a wheelchair for her in one of our shipping containers and retrofitted it a bit for her size. She will have to learn to use it now so that after her splints are on she is able to get around. It will be a bit of a setback for her at first (she is so fast and so capable, even with walking on her knees) but in the long term the chair will be a huge help. For one thing, it makes her MUCH taller!!

We are not 100% sure yet if she is a surgical candidate-she will be taken to Tenwek tomorrow for xrays and examination by the orthopedic surgeon. Please pray for good news! Miriam is very excited and assured us she is ready for the hard work ahead.

Miriam's dorm mates practice assisting her 
with using her wheelchair on stairs.


  1. I am so glad Amy and Woody were able to come visit, train, and encourage. What an incredible story about Miriam – so resilient, tackling life on her knees. I hope she is able to get the surgery!!

  2. What a fantastic story! Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I love the last picture of her being supported by those around her.

  3. How encouraging about Miriam!! Made me cry just thinking about it. Tugged at my heart strings. Praying she gets it!

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