This is 4-month-old Chan Ya Qi, my mum-in-law's great-grandniece from Kuala Lumpur. She was born with a bilateral cleft lip, and will require multiple surgeries to correct it until she's 18. She doesn't have a palate, which means the simple action of sucking from a milk bottle isn't possible. Only her mum and nanny know how to feed her with a special cleft lip feeding bottle, which needs a lot of care and patience as Ya Qi can choke if the milk flow is too much or fast.
Beyond lip repair, Ya Qi will also have to undergo additonal procedures and therapies for orthodontics, dental, speech, and possibly hearing issues (her mum tells me that the child's hearing is sometimes affected by cleft palate surgeries).
The little trooper went for primary closure of her cleft lip surgery on 9 March, the first of many reconstructive procedures. While Ya Qi is healing well, her mum tells me she cries a lot, mainly from pain from the wound and frustration because she also has arm splints on to prevent her from touching her lip. Her next surgery is slated for when she's between 9 and 12 months to repair the cleft palate.
You might notice Ya Qi in a brace in a few pictures. It's a Pavlik Harness used to treat infant hip displasia by gently positioning her hips so that they're aligned and secure in the joint. Her mum is happy to report that the latest ultrasound showed her hips to be fine. Because Ya Qi is too young, her orthopaedic doctor can only confirm the result when she has her first X-ray after she's 6 months' old. But for now, the harness is off and the family is delighted with the preliminary news.
I'm appealing for donations to cover her procedures and parents' expenses for her day nanny, which costs RM$1,000 per month because she's a special needs child (Ya Qi's mum takes the night shift when she comes home from work). It's estimated that her parents require at least RM$100,000 to cover all her medical and daily needs until she's 18. The costs will take a toll on the family's already stretched finances and I hope to raise SGD$25,000 for to help with Ya Qi's surgeries and nanny costs.
I will be collecting the funds on the family's behalf and will transfer the money to them when the fundraising effort is over. I'll provide an update when I do so. Her family is grateful for any help, big or small, and thanks everyone in advance for their kind generosity. I hope you find it in your hearts to help Ya Qi's long road to leading a normal life.
Sincere thanks, love, light and peace to everyone.
Ya Qi's pre- and post-surgery pictures
This is strapping, a pre-surgical therapy to bring the edges of the cleft lip closer together. Ya Qi wore this a few hours a day for 2 months. And she's wearing the Pavlik harness here which helped to gently align her hip joint to correct the infant hip displasia.
After 2 months of strapping, her lip edges have come closer together.
Ya Qi's mum cradling her after her first cleft lip operation on 9 March.
Less than 10 days after surgery, Ya Qi is healing very well but isn't too happy with the pain and frustration of the arm splints that stop her from touching her lip. It takes quite a while for Mum and the nanny to calm her down. But we're glad she's progressing so well.