Pei's Long Journey

Every child, every patient we treat is important. And at moments a special story is revealed, and sometimes it is this story that inspires us to continue our work, and change lives. Such is the story of Xin Qi Pei, who we met in Guizhou Province, China.

This lovely sweet shy child had more severe deformities than most of our patients. Her condition seemed hopeless, but team member and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Gagan Sabharwal felt compelled to help her. He was convinced that surgery could dramatically change the way the world looks at her.

In Dr. Sabharwal's words:

Xin Qi Pei came to AfS, during the Guiyang mission in August of 2013. The moment I saw this girl I wanted to operate on her. There was huge resistance at first because this was a complex craniofacial case with major complications.

I said that since the child is four years old, I knew that the father would have gone to many hospitals and would have faced rejection over and over. I begged for just one chance, knowing I would not let her down. The next day Pei was examined by the pediatrician and the anesthesiologist and found fit for surgery. I actually did a mock surgery on paper to show what could be done. Finally, the team agreed to move forward.

Although the surgery was difficult, the most touching moment was in the recovery when her father saw her for the first time. He sat quietly next to her and admired her for almost five minutes and then burst into tears. I guess it was the emotions of so many years which he had inside him. He then spoke to one of the interpreters and told her that he had travelled to different parts of China, to so many hospitals since she was born, and no one felt they had the skills to help her. He was so thankful to AfS for giving a new life to his daughter.

The Guiyang mission was my first ever mission. It changed me as a human being. It changed the way I look at life now. Pei will always be my special kid because of how I had to fight for her. After the case finished our lead surgeon Dr. Fred Tomlinson patted me on the back and told me I should be proud of what I had done. I was humbled and touched.

But Pei’s journey was not over. During the September 2014 mission to Bijie, China, she came back to us to have her palate repaired by Dr. Sabharwal. In May 2015 he will return to China with AfS to repair her nose and reconstruct her nostril. In so many ways Pei's life has just begun.

Pei before her first surgery in 2013
Pei 6 months later
Pei with Dr. Gagan Sabharwal and Dr. Colin Wong
Pei and her father