desperately needed medical treatment. Why? Because a woman who was an acquaintance of his family had conceived a grudge against them and had thrown acid in Andy’s face as an act of vengeance.
Andy was disfigured. Most of his face was severely burned. He lost his nose. Scars on his arms and legs hardened and made him immobile.
us to bring Andy here, and we asked Bill and Cindy Wittkopp of
Florence, Kentucky and their twins, Karl and Hannah, to be his host family. This was
the first time Bill and Cindy hosted a child, having heard about HTC when a long time
host family, the Lieuwens of Cincinnati, visited the Wittkopp’s church and talked about
their own hosting experiences with burned children.
Soon after his
arrival, Andy underwent the first of many procedures (the last
would take place more than a year later) aimed at improving his appearance, function,
and mobility. Skin grafts were placed on his face, hand, and armpits. Scars on his
mouth and left eye were released. His nose was rebuilt. Dr. Kevin Yakuboff, a
plastic/reconstructive surgeon at Shriners, planned and performed all the surgeries.
When he was finished, Andy was able to use his arms and hands, eat, and talk. His
appearance was vastly improved. Andy’s aunt, the woman who asked Ed Smith to find help for Andy, received permission, rarely granted, to travel from China to learn how to care for Andy’s wounds. With those skills, she will play an extremely important role in his recovery. But there is also more surgery to be done, and Andy will be traveling to Ohio again. Bill and Cindy hope to host him then, too.
Here’s what Cindy told us about Andy.
Andy is very
intelligent, active, bouncy, forthright, and affectionate. He has a
good sense of humor and a strong personality. Because he is so strong, he adjusted
quickly. He learned to speak English in two months--quite fluently, too.
made Andy’s stay here special and blessed. For one, my children
used to be demanding of my time and very dependent on me. When Andy came all
that changed. In the beginning, Andy’s care--bathing, dressing wounds, therapy,
getting dressed--took about four hours a day. My children jumped right in to help and
also began taking care of their own needs. Throughout this family endeavor we have
seen such love, compassion and acceptance flow from our children to Andy. They call him their brother, and he calls them his brother and sister.
What we saw from the community and our school was pure love and acceptance. Thanks to Shriners’ awesome presentation at Andy’s school, the children were well prepared, and they welcomed Andy with open arms. On the first day of school two children, Cole and Lyndsey, clung to him protectively, and they ended up being his best friends.
All Healing the Children stories are touching, we think, because they’re about hope and healing.
But sometimes we find a child who has endured so much that “touching” is too mild a word for his story. Shiyu Liang, who wished to be called Andy while he lived in the U.S., is that kind of child.
He was eight years old when we heard of him. A man named Ed Smith called Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati to try to find help for a little Chinese boy. Ed had once taught English in China, and a former student had told him about her nephew, who
The school even placed them in Andy’s class the next year. Both have kept in phone contact with Andy in China. In a special act of kindness, Andy’s lunches for the first year were donated by the PTA. Also, Andy was given an aide. She insisted on being trained to do Andy’s morning therapy so that he wouldn’t have to get up early in the morning and do it before school.
Everyone at the
school, Erpenbeck Elementary, believed that Andy enriched
their lives. That is exactly how our family feels too. We have said to people since
Andy left, “Our lives may be a bit easier now, but certainly not better.”
We believe that
all the love and acceptance Andy received here helped him
heal completely--physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
We are in
contact with Andy every week through phone calls and e-mail, and
we look forward to being part of his life in the future.