The Long Flight North

March 11, 2013 • United States

A nurse helps transport an 8-year-old Mongolian girl to a U.S. hospital for life-saving heart surgery through Children's Heart Project.

Lisa Friesen, a volunteer transport nurse with Children’s Heart Project, helped bring 8-year-old Anya from Mongolia to a hospital in Minnesota to have heart surgery. Anya had a successful procedure on Wednesday, March 6. Please pray for her continued recovery.

As I was sitting in seat 32F, playing the zillionth round of “ADHD solitaire”(basically you keep starting a new round because you can never finish the last one), I felt like someone was watching me. I turned around to see little Anya with a big grin on her face. I motioned for her to sit on my lap, and she immediately did that. She snuggled in, and without saying a word, she showed me the cartoon she wanted to watch.

For an hour she watched TV with me while frequently adjusting the much-too-large headset and her very large pink headband. When lunch came, she eagerly devoured her rice but did not touch anything else. I showed her how to put the napkin on her lap when she was eating, and she immediately complied. After having a sip of tea, I motioned for her to put her head on my lap to rest. Within minutes she was sound asleep.

I had my arm across her thin chest and felt her large heart thumping. Her long, skinny blue fingers were resting on my leg. Her head was bathed in sweat as her little ticker tried to keep up with the oxygen demands of her body. Intermittently she would wake up, sit up, grin at me, adjust her headband, and lay back down.

With each thump of her heartbeat, I thought about the amount of caring people it took to give this child a second chance at life. My job is easy and fun. I get to hang out with the kids and their moms, but so much goes on before I even do my part.

What if the countryside doctor had not referred this child for further evaluation? What if Children’s Heart Project had not been notified of her existence? What if the hospital, cardiac surgeon, cardiologists, and hospital administration had not agreed to help this child? What if there had been no finances from generous donors to bring this child thousands of miles away for a heart repair?

It occurred to me that this whole process is like a chain. Each link is as important as the other one. It is a chain of caring. What if everyone in the world saw themselves as a link in the great chain of caring? Imagine the miracles we could create!