Bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents may hold hope for girl with rare dis­ease

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By MA ZHENHUAN in Hangzhou mazhen­huan@chi­

An in­ter­na­tional search for a DNA match to the bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents of an adopted child has ig­nited the car­ing hearts of thou­sands of peo­ple in China and the United States, es­pe­cially at a time of tra­di­tional fam­ily reunions dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val.

The par­ents of Meisyn El­li­son, who was born in China as Jiang Lirou and is now 13 and liv­ing in Cedar City, Utah, are ur­gently call­ing for help in Lishui, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, where the girl was born.

Meisyn was born on Jan 5 in 2006, and was found aban­doned at the door­way of the Lishui pub­lic se­cu­rity bureau. She was sent to the lo­cal Lishui Chil­dren’s Home.

“She came to­gether with four bags of milk pow­der, 520 yuan ($80) in cash, a paper note with birth in­for­ma­tion, and a change of clothes,” Lou Ya­jia, vice-pres­i­dent of the Lishui Chil­dren’s Home, re­called on Tues­day. She was in charge of re­ceiv­ing Meisyn back then.

Through a health exam, the girl was found to have been born with con­gen­i­tally dis­lo­cated hips and is un­able to walk.

“She was given a sur­name of ‘Jiang’, mean­ing Zhe­jiang, fol­lowed by ‘li’, the first Chi­nese char­ac­ter of Lishui, the city where she was born. We hoped this will help the girl re­mem­ber where she came from when she grew up,” Lou said.

At the age of 6, Meisyn was adopted by her par­ents in the US and trav­eled there. She was later di­ag­nosed with spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy, a rare ge­netic con­di­tion. Due to her con­di­tion, Meisyn has never been able to walk and even has a dif­fi­cult time sit­ting up on her own.

SMA af­fects nerve cells in the brain stem and spinal cord that con­trol mus­cle ac­tiv­ity. As the nerves are dis­rupted, mus­cles weaken, which can im­pair any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity — speak­ing, walk­ing, breath­ing, swal­low­ing, smil­ing, any­thing can be im­paired. There is no cure, but new medicines are be­ing de­vel­oped and treat­ment of symp­toms and ther­apy of­ten is used.

De­spite her dis­abil­i­ties, Meisyn El­li­son likes cre­at­ing art and read­ing books on dif­fer­ent sub­jects, and she has been an ex­cel­lent stu­dent who scored high in school and is to­ward the top of her class.

She is a kind, help­ful and obe­di­ent girl who has re­ceived

awards at school for her high marks. She likes ad­ven­tures and is ea­ger to try new things, like ski­ing and go­ing fast on boats and in cars.

She has re­ceived some pro­fes­sional ski train­ing and dreams of be­com­ing an Olympic cham­pion at the Par­a­lympic Games one day.

How­ever, Meisyn also lives her life in a wheel­chair. In re­cent weeks, it has be­come clear that her con­di­tion is wors­en­ing and her nerves are dy­ing.

Her form of the dis­ease is so rare that doc­tors in the US need to com­pare her full ge­netic screen­ing with those of her bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents to try to de­ter­mine why her nerves are dy­ing.

Meisyn’s adop­tive par­ents in the US are ea­ger for and have agreed to the ge­netic test­ing, but find­ing her bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents in China is im­per­a­tive, they said.

That’s why they con­tacted the Lishui Chil­dren’s Home for help.

“If her birth par­ents can be found, we would like to bring her back to China to re­spect­fully meet them face-to-face and show our deep thanks for giv­ing her life and help­ing her,” Ste­fani El­li­son, the girl’s mother, wrote in a WeChat mes­sage to Lou a month ago.

Lou said the chil­dren’s home is or­ga­niz­ing vol­un­teers to check all birth in­for­ma­tion for Jan 5, 2006, the day Meisyn was born, among all hos­pi­tals in Lishui.

She said they also are try­ing to check the med­i­cal records from lo­cal hos­pi­tals to de­ter­mine if any child with sim­i­lar symp­toms was ad­mit­ted be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber 2006.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about Meisyn’s birth fam­ily is en­cour­aged to con­tact China Daily at mazhen­huan@chi­


Meisyn El­li­son (far right) and her fam­ily in the United States.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.