Disfigured orphan from China set for life-changing surgery

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 26 at 8:51 AM

RICHARDSON — Pam Newell made an impulsive decision this year, but it was motivated by love.

The 55-year-old manager at Hewlett Packard re-arranged her entire life and opened her heart and home to a baby she met only six weeks ago.

"I don't know what got into to me, but [it happened] instantaneously," Newell said at her home in Richardson. "I’m really happy I made the decision. It feels like he has been here forever."

She is taking care of Logan, an orphan from China. The seven-month-old was abandoned at birth; shunned by his family because of the defect on his face.

It's the defect Newell doesn't see.

"All I see is the smile on his face," she said. "His happy eyes, or the giggling, or the sounds he makes. I want him to have a really safe, long, healthy life."

Newell is giving the baby boy a home.

Others will give him a new face.

The orphanage contacted Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Craig Hobar from the LEAP Foundation, an organization of medical volunteers that donates surgical care to children and adults born with deformities across the world.

LEAP, Medical City Children's Hospital, and others have teamed for Logan's surgeries.

"I'm a small piece of the puzzle, but it's a great puzzle to be a part of," Dr. Hobar said.

Logan will require multiple surgeries — three planned for this year — to correct his cleft palate. Hobar said the condition is rare and severe; Logan can only drink milk through a feeding tube.

"It's a form of a rare craniofacial cleft. He's got no facial bones on the right side. He lost his eye on the right side," Dr. Hobar explained.

Logan also has a rare condition known as amniotic band syndrome. ABS is caused by strands of the amniotic sac (tears or ruptures in the membrane) that constrict the fetus' limbs or other parts. In Logan's case, a strand wrapped around his face.

"It just sliced his face from his eye to his mouth," Dr. Hobar said. "So those two are rare conditions, together."

But the surgeon's past work aboard and in North Texas gives him confidence.

In 2011, he brought another boy with a facial deformity from China to North Texas. Two years later, only a small scar remains on the boy's face.

Dr. Hobar said Logan's case — while challenging — inspires him to do his best.

"It takes me to my highest levels of skills and creativity, so I'm very excited about it," he said.

Also fueling his excitement is Logan's future.

"I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with him," Dr. Hobar said. "I bet he's never going back to that orphanage."

That is a sweet certainty Pam Newell already holds in her mind and heart.

"I will move heaven and earth to keep him from going back," she said. "I will do my absolute best to find a home for him."

Newell and her late husband Paul adopted their daughters, Rozy and Amanda, when they were teenagers. Newell said her family, her church, and her friends are behind her if she decides to adopt Logan.

Whether it's with her or with another family, Newell is determined to find Logan a permanent home in the U.S.

"I want to give him the perfect life, and I know no life is perfect," she said. "But I want him to have the best life he can have."

Donations can be made to the LEAP Foundation in his name. All medical expenses are covered, but other supplies are needed for the boy’s care and other children with similar birth defects.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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