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Successful Fundraiser Held

October 19, 2015

September 19 turned out to be a beautiful, albeit breezy, fall day in Waterton. As guests began to arrive, the potluck table overflowed with an amazing assortment of appetizers, main courses, and deserts. Naturally, the bounty of carefully tended gardens was on full display.

Waterton Community Hall

Waterton Community Hall

Most of the folks in attendance knew Boun Lod’s story, and had been supporters of Boun Lod and the Boun Lod fund since the very beginning. After supper, Gordon gave a brief update about Boun Lod’s progress, and answered numerous questions about how she was doing. Everyone was pleased to hear that Boun Lod was doing well, and amazed to see how much she’d grown and changed since 2008.

The rest of the evening was given over to dancing and socializing as friends and neighbours caught up after a busy summer.

Dance

Dance

People were very generous with their donations, and the Boun Lod fund received a healthy boost.

Many thanks go to Dave and Linde for hosting this event, and to everyone who donated so generously.

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Boun Lod Fundraiser

September 17, 2015

Boun Lod isn’t the only one who’s had a recent birthday. Linde Farley turned 65 in August, and Dave McNeill turned 70 a few days ago. Dave and Linde have been major supporters of, and fundraisers for, Boun Lod since they first heard her story in 2007.

As part of their joint birthday celebrations, Linde and Dave decided to host a combination birthday bash and Boun Lod fundraiser that will take place in Waterton Park on Saturday, Sept 19. Funds raised will help with Boun Lod’s expenses for her next trip to the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital expected sometime in mid 2016.

Thanks Dave and Linde! And thanks to all the folks who have already made donations, or who are planning to do so on Saturday. We’ll see you there.

Happy Birthday Boun Lod!

September 17, 2015

Boun Lod turned twelve on her birthday a few days ago. Boun Lod has been home in Lao for just over a year now. She is doing well, and is attending both Lao school and Vientiane College where she takes English classes.

Cathy and I visited Boun Lod and Noi in Cincinnati in May 2014. We were struck by how tall Boun Lod was getting, and by how good her English was. Noi’s English is really coming along as well. (Noi, and Boun Lod’s father Via, are also enrolled in English classes at Vientiane College.)

While in Cincinnati, we met Boun Lod and Noi’s friends Missy and Megan. Missy, Megan, and their whole family, have been very kind, welcoming, and helpful to Boun Lod and Noi. Missy and her family welcomed Boun Lod and Noi to their home for holiday occasions like Christmas and Easter, as well as for special occasions including birthdays. Missy and family also took Boun Lod and Noi out to places like the zoo, and helped them with daily chores like shopping.

Boun Lod has become a bit of an ambassador for the Cincinnati Shriners hospital. Boun Lod and Noi attended a fundraising event hosted by the Cincinnati Bengals, and met some of the players. Boun Lod even got up and said a few words to the three hundred people in attendance.

photo 1

Cincinnati Bengals Fundraiser

Cincinnati Bengals Fundraiser

Cincinnati Bengals Fundraiser

On another occasion, Boun Lod was part of a group of kids hosted by the Cincinnati Reds at one of their home games. The kids were treated like celebrities, and got to run around the bases during the pre-game show. Apparently Boun Lod and Noi were a bit mystified by the game of baseball, but really enjoyed the atmosphere, the food, and doing “the wave”.

During Boun Lod’s last stay at the Shriner’s Hospital the surgeons completed work on her scalp and hair, and did some additional reconstruction on her mouth and lip. When we visited in May, Boun Lod was reacting to the plastic mask that she was wearing to reduce scarring on her face. I asked her, “Is it a little bit itchy?” Boun Lod looked directly at me and said, “No, Gor-dawn, it is not a little bit itchy, it is a lot itchy!” She’s seldom at a loss for words.

Here is a photo of Boun Lod and Noi with a blanket that Annette made for Boun Lod. (Boun Lod’s lip was red and sore when the picture was taken but has healed well.)

Boun Lod and Noi with blanket made by Annette

Boun Lod and Noi with blanket made by Annette

Boun Lod and Noi flew home to Lao on August 19, 2014. We don’t yet know when Boun Lod will return to Cincinnati for further treatment, but expect it will be sometime in mid 2016.

Early Spring 2014 Update

March 11, 2014

After a year at home in Laos, Boun Lod and Noi returned to the USA at the end of October 2013. (Many thanks to the Al Azhar Shrine (Calgary) Hospital Patient Transportation Fund for covering their transportation costs!) Noi and Boun Lod spent the first week with family in Philadelphia before continuing on to Cincinnati.

The last thing Boun Lod had done before she went home in 2012 was to have the skin on one side of her scalp stretched, then cut, and her hair moved forward.

Boun Lod’s first surgery for this round, in mid November 2013, was to have the same procedure done on the other side of her scalp. An expander was implanted and then gradually filled with saline. After about eight weeks, the expander was removed and the hair moved.

Boun Lod has also received a new set of prosthetic arms. Donna, Boun Lod’s Care Coordinator in Cincinnati, arranged for Boun Lod to visit the Shriners hospital in Lexington, Kentucky to have the prosthetics measured and made. Apparently Boun Lod is quite proud of her new arms. When she first received them, Boun Lod went around the Cincinnati hospital to show them off to everyone. To get used to the new arms, Boun Lod is using them every day.

Boun Lod with Her New Arms

Boun Lod with Her New Arms

These prosthetic arms are mainly cosmetic, but Boun Lod can still use them to a certain extent. Donna says it’s amazing what Boun Lod can actually do with them. The hospital is waiting to see how Boun Lod does with these arms before moving on to another more functional set.

You can see by the photos that Boun Lod is growing quickly. (The photo where she appears much taller than her mom is deceptive, however!)

Boun Lod and Noi

Boun Lod and Noi

Both Boun Lod and Noi’s English is really improving. While they were home for the year, they both continued their English classes at Vientiane College and, of course, they’re immersed in English everyday in Cincinnati.

Now that she’s back in Cincinnati, Boun Lod studies English and math at the hospital’s school for two hours a day during the week. The teachers figure Boun Lod’s English is at about a grade four level. When we last talked to her, Boun Lod said she had just finished reading a book about Helen Keller.

When Boun Lod is not in school, she is doing her homework, playing with the other kids in the playroom, or enjoying various types of board and video games.

This year, Boun Lod and Noi are living in family accommodations right inside the hospital. There is a kitchen, and Noi is able to cook. Noi says this arrangement is working out very well.

Volunteers from the local community have been very good to Boun Lod and Noi. They’ve taken Boun Lod and Noi on outings to places like the zoo, and they’ve taken Noi to the Asian market so she can purchase the ingredients she needs to make Lao food.

At the Aquarium

At the Aquarium

Boun Lod’s next surgery is scheduled for early April, and will probably be on her mouth. Once she has healed from that procedure, the doctors are planning to do further surgery on her nose.

It won’t come as any surprise to hear that it’s been a long, cold winter in Cincinnati. Like the rest of us, Boun Lod and Noi are looking forward to warmer weather, sunshine, and green grass!

Boun Lod Continues to do Well. More Surgery Scheduled for November 2013.

July 22, 2013

As mentioned previously, Boun Lod had surgery in July 2012 at the Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati to implant a “balloon” under her scalp that was to be injected with saline to gradually stretch her scalp. For the rest of the summer and fall, Boun Lod made regular visits to the hospital for the injections.

During that time, Boun Lod also enthusiastically attended the Hospital’s school, and enjoyed the daily “Child Life” program.

Boun Lod made good progress and, in early October, the surgeons removed the balloon and “adjusted” Boun Lod’s scalp. By late October, Boun Lod had healed sufficiently that she was given the go-ahead to return home to Lao. As far as Boun Lod was concerned, the November 3 return date was perfect as she was able to celebrate Halloween in Cincinnati!

Happy to be going home soon! October 30, 2012.

Happy to be going home soon! October 30, 2012.

Soon after Boun Lod and Noi returned home, we received a note from Andy, who reported, “[Boun Lod] seemed very well – I love the American accent. She seems a lot more grown up and mature as well.”

On her return home, Boun Lod resumed her English studies at Vientiane College. She continues to improve her marks, and now gets mostly “A’s”.

Boun Lod is also catching up with her Lao education. Because she has spent so much time away from home, she’s behind her peer group, and especially so in Lao language. It was decided that the best course of action would be to have Boun Lod study with a private tutor, and she’s been doing that since the New Year.

It’s just about time for Boun Lod to return to Cincinnati for further work on her scalp, eye, and nose. The Cincinnati Shriners Hospital has also contacted the Shriners Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky to arrange for more work to be done on Boun Lod’s prosthetic arms, and for Boun Lod to continue her training on their use.

Boun Lod is scheduled to return to Cincinnati in late October, with her first surgery to take place in early November. The doctors expect Dr. Yakuboff, the Chief of Plastic Surgery, expects this round of surgery and treatment to take six to nine months approximately 12 months.

It’s been a long haul for Boun Lod and her family, and it will be hard for Boun Lod and Noi to be away from home again, but the family is determined to do all they can to help Boun Lod.

The Shriners Hospitals, and particularly the Cincinnati Hospital, continue to be terrific, and we can’t say enough about the exemplary kindness, attention, and care that Boun Lod receives.

Boun Lod returns to Cincinnati for further surgery

August 15, 2012

“Can I go to a big school now?”

Cathy and I had just arrived at the Parent House in Cincinnati, and had barely said hello, but Boun Lod was busting to ask the question. We hadn’t seen her for a number of months, and we were pleased that she had enjoyed school in Philadelphia so much that getting back to class was at the top of her mind. We were also surprised, and impressed, by how much her English had improved.

We had arrived in Cincinnati late the night before to be there for Boun Lod’s surgery that was scheduled for the next day.

Boun Lod’s last surgery was on her face and lip, and Boun Lod and Noi had been staying with relatives in Philadelphia while Boun Lod recovered.

While in Philadelphia, Boun Lod went to occupational therapy at the Philadelphia Shriners hospital to work on the use of her prosthetic arms. Boun Lod also went to Moonstone Preschool, and apparently loved every minute of it.

Moonstone had very generously given Boun Lod a scholarship to help with her tuition, but the school also seems to have gained in return. The Director of Moonstone commented, “The impact she has had on our school is immeasurable.  We were very fortunate to have her with us!”

Boun Lod and her mother returned to Cincinnati on July 11. During the months she was in Philadelphia, Boun Lod had healed well, and the surgeons in Cincinnati were pleased with her progress.

A couple of days after her return to Cincinnati, Boun Lod had surgery to implant a “balloon” under her scalp. Over the next couple of months, the balloon will be injected with saline to slowly stretch the scalp. Once Boun Lod’s scalp has stretched sufficiently, the surgeons will cut it and move her hair forward, giving her a normal hairline.

After Boun Lod’s Surgery

Boun Lod wasn’t crazy about the idea of having a balloon implanted under her scalp but rounds of “Uno”, video games, and a visit from a group of clowns the day after her surgery were great distractions.

A Visit from the Clowns

To allow the Shriners Hospital medical staff to administer and monitor the saline injections, and to allow them to closely monitor Boun Lod’s progress, Boun Lod and Noi will stay in Cincinnati until after Boun Lod’s next operation.

The doctors will see how Boun Lod does, and how she heals, before deciding what surgery and treatment should come next.

By all accounts, Boun Lod and her mother have been doing well since July’s surgery. Boun Lod goes to school at the hospital, and attends the “Child Life” program daily. Noi has been participating in the weekly parent group. Still, Boun Lod and Noi have been away from home for a long time, and they’re both anxious to return to family and friends.

Summer 2011

July 7, 2011

Boun Lod and her mother Noi arrived back in Cincinnati on May 26, after a long but uneventful trip via Bangkok, Tokyo, and Detroit.

After a few days recovering from jet lag, Boun Lod found herself back in the familiar surroundings of the Shriners Hospital for Children where she had a series of medical tests and evaluations. The doctors were pleased by how she had healed, and by the range of motion in her arms. The previous surgeries, along with the ongoing therapy (both in the hospital and at home with Noi), seem to have been very successful.

Now that some of the major surgery has been done to allow Boun Lod to grow and develop properly, the surgeons are turning more to her cosmetic needs.

Boun Lod’s first surgery this time around was on June 13. The surgeons took a piece of skin from the back of her arm, attached it to her lower lip, and then lifted the skin to form a new lip.

Just after surgery

Just after Surgery

The early-morning surgery went well and, by the end of the afternoon, Boun Lod was anxious to get her IV out so she could go to the playroom. Boun Lod was discharged from hospital the next day.

Noi and Boun Lod. Feeling Better Already.

Noi and Boun Lod. Feeling Better Already.

A week later, Boun Lod was back to the clinic to have her stitches removed, and to be fitted for a hard plastic facemask. The facemask will help reduce scarring, and will help her new lip heal properly.

While at home in Laos for the past 18 months, Noi continued to take English classes at Vientiane College, and her English is getting better and better. Noi now understands and speaks well enough to get by in most day-to-day situations. Boun Lod’s English is also improving, and she understands much of what is said.

On July 1, Noi and Boun Lod flew to Philadelphia to stay with family until Boun Lod’s next appointment in Cincinnati in early August. At that time, the doctors will evaluate Boun Lod’s progress, and will decide on the next surgery.

Boun Lod will also make regular visits to the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia where she will continue the training on how to use her prosthetic arms.

Come September, we hope to get Boun Lod back to school in Philadelphia. Hopefully, her good friends Cindy and Gemma will still be there. I bet she’s looking forward to seeing them again.

Boun Lod Heading Back to Cincinnati

April 6, 2011

It’s been a little over a year now since Boun Lod and her mother Noi went home to Laos.

By the look of this recent picture of Boun Lod, she’s growing like a weed.

Boun Lod, January 2011

As mentioned before, Boun Lod is not allowed to go to a public school in Laos because of her disabilities. Andy, one of our Lao contacts, and a friend of Boun Lod’s family, arranged for Boun Lod to attend a private school. By all accounts, she’s done well. Andy also arranged for a private tutor to help Boun Lod catch up on the work she’d missed while she was in the US. We used some of the money that was left in the Boun Lod fund to cover tuition and pay for the tutor.

Boun Lod is scheduled to resume her surgery and treatment in early June. While the first round of surgery in 2008–2010 was primarily functional, that is, it was mainly to allow her to grow and develop properly, we expect this round of surgery to be more cosmetic in nature. Still, we’ll have to wait and see what the surgeons say once they’ve had a chance to examine Boun Lod, and to see how well she’s healed, and how she’s doing.

With the help of Sivone, another of our Lao contacts, Noi and Boun Lod applied for their US visas. They have just received them, and we have booked their flights. Boun Lod and Noi are due to arrive back in Cincinnati at the end of May.

I’m very pleased to report that Calgary’s Al Azhar Shriners have very generously agreed to cover the airfares for Boun Lod and Noi to fly back and forth between Laos and the USA. This is most helpful and much appreciated!

Between rounds of surgery and therapy, Boun Lod and her mother will travel to Philadelphia and stay with family there. A US-based airline has agreed to fly them between Cincinnati and Philadelphia as long as Boun Lod is also a patient at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. We’re just waiting for confirmation from the Philadelphia Hospital that, as before, it will provide Boun Lod with prosthetics, training, and therapy. Once everything is confirmed, we’ll thank the airline by name.

Due to the very generous response to our initial fundraising efforts, we have a good start on the funds we’ll need for this round of surgery and treatment. We will, however, need to top up the Boun Lod fund, and we’d very much welcome any donations or fundraising ideas you might have!

Spring 2010 Update

April 29, 2010

Boun Lod’s most recent surgery was late last November, when the surgeons worked on her neck, mouth, and eye. Originally, the doctors said they’d like Boun Lod to stay near the hospital until March so they could monitor the healing process. But, when the doctors examined Boun Lod in January and saw how well she was doing, they gave her the go-ahead to return home to Laos.

Donna, our main liaison worker at the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital, was at the January appointment. As Donna said, “I wish I’d had a camera to record the look of surprise and joy on Noi’s face when she was told that Boun Lod was well enough to go home!”

With Air Canada and Aeroplan’s very generous donation of tickets through the Kid’s Horizons Programme, we were able to get Boun Lod and Noi home on January 21st.

By all accounts, it was a joyous homecoming, with family and friends coming from all over to visit Boun Lod and Noi, and to see how Boun Lod was doing.

I suspect that most of the visitors were surprised to see the changes in Boun Lod, and to see how much she’d grown while she was away.

Shortly after Boun Lod returned home she started school. Due to her disabilities, Boun Lod would not be allowed to go to a public school but our contact in Laos, Andy, found a private school that agreed to take her.

Initially, the school was apprehensive about the reaction of the other students, but even more so about the reaction of the student’s parents. Judging by the photos of Boun Lod with her classmates, the kids are no problem, and we haven’t heard of any complaints or misgivings from the parents.

Because Boun Lod was late starting school she’s a little behind, and the school’s principal suggested that Boun Lod do some extra work with a tutor to help her catch up. We have used some of the money that remains in the Boun Lod Fund to pay for Boun Lod’s tuition, and we’ll use money from the fund to pay for any extra tutoring costs.

Boun Lod with Noi at School

Boun Lod with her mother Noi at school.

While a definite date hasn’t been set yet, Boun Lod is tentatively scheduled to return to Cincinnati in June 2011 to continue with another 12-18 months of surgery and treatment.

Up until now, Boun Lod’s surgery has focused mainly on restoring function and mobility, and on making sure that she can grow properly. The next round of surgery will start to be more cosmetic in nature.

Christmas 2009

December 17, 2009

Boun Lod continues to do well.

In September, she started going to kindergarten three days a week. Boun Lod loves kindergarten, and her mother says she doesn’t want to go home at the end of the day.

Naturally, one of the best things about kindergarten is playing with the other kids. Boun Lod has two best friends, Gemma and Cindy, who help her with things like putting on her shoes and socks (tough to do without arms and hands!).

By September, Boun Lod’s father had been away from his job for almost a year, and he had to return home to Lao. While Boun Lod and Noi miss him, they’ve now had enough experience with the system to get by on their own.

This Halloween was Boun Lod’s first real experience with all the ghosts and goblins and, by all accounts, she enjoyed every minute of it. Unlike some of her friends who dressed as fairies or princesses, Boun Lod went as the Tasmanian Devil, which does seem fitting somehow.

Boun Lod has also been going to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia two or three times a week to learn how to use her prosthetic arms. Apparently she’s getting quite good with them, and can pick up small objects, use a pencil and paper, and so on.

Mickey Mouse visited the hospital one day, and the kid’s were given tickets to “Disney on Ice”. While I don’t think Boun Lod has developed a liking for cold, ice, or snow, she was entranced by the show.

Boun Lod and Mickey Mouse.

Boun Lod with Mickey Mouse.

All of this activity has been good for Boun Lod’s English.  She understands a lot of what’s said, and isn’t shy about saying a few words.

Boun Lod’s mother’s English is also really improving. Noi understands and speaks well enough to get by in most day-to-day situations.

On November 20, Boun Lod was back in Cincinnati for surgery on her neck, mouth, and eye. The skin graft for her neck was taken from her leg. For the next three months, Boun Lod will have to wear a stiff collar to keep her neck stretched so it will heal properly.

Boun Lod and Noi after the November Surgery

Boun Lod and Noi after the November Surgery

By March, Boun Lod should be all healed up from this latest surgery, and the doctors feel it would be a good time for her to return home for a break.

Probably in the summer of 2011, Boun Lod will return to Cincinnati for another 12 to 18 months of further surgery and treatment.

Boun Lod needs a good education if she is to have a fighting chance for a decent future, and she’ll be the right age to start school when she gets back to Lao. Because of her handicap, however, Boun Lod will not be allowed to go to a public school. Fortunately, our liaison in Vientiane has found a good private school that will accept her. We will use some of the money remaining in the Boun Lod fund to help send her there.

Merry Christmas, and Best Wishes for the New Year!