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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 1, 2010 check-up update in Singapore

"Ethan is fine, he is a very fine boy!" Those are the first words from a straight-forward Dr. Lee Kang Hoe, Ethan's physician at the Liver Centre. 

Complete blood test & ultrasound showed positive improvements of his liver functions as well as blood count & renal functions. There is a constant drop from elevated to normal level of liver enzymes which is a good sign that Tina's liver inside Ethan's tummy is functioning well & absorbing nutrients.

Although the liver & spleen are still not within normal sizes, it will take sometime to achieve that. His medicines are significantly tapered down. Hopefully, this will promote physical growth since steroids impedes it.

His pediatrician, Dr. Nancy Tan, enthusiastically gave practical guidelines in caring & feeding Ethan. She is very encouraged to see Ethan actively playing & walking around. Ethan warmly gives her high fives & flying kisses & gamely dances to the song "My God is so great so strong & so mighty..."

One thing remains is to keep him from crowded places, from touching animals & plants, and from kids especially those who are sick & had live vaccinations. 

Ethan did not enjoy the blood extractions & ultrasound but excitedly charms nurses & aunties. Our next consultation is within 4-6 months' time depending on his blood test next month at St. Luke's.

Meanwhile, Tina's test showed a well-functioning liver. She is very healthy, indeed. Praise our Savior!

Thank you for fervently praying.
1. Continuous growth, healing and protection.
2. Last Dec. 10, he passed fresh blood in his stools. Pray that there is no internal bleeding specifically in the liver.
Provision for routine check ups & medication.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Prayers Matter

Please pray for
1. Protection from viral and bacterial infections for all of us due to Ethan’s low immune system.
2. Provision for Ethan’s monthly blood tests, anti-rejection medicines and other medicines, and medical check-ups. Provision for a suitable house in Quezon City where we can move in soon; we are praying that we can transfer to a better place where air is cleaner & environment is more beneficial for Ethan's health towards complete recovery
3. Progress on Ethan’s growth and development - physically, mentally and emotionally.
4. Parental care: Wisdom, love, discernment, strength, and spiritual growth for us as we raise Ethan.
His Power, strength and wisdom manifested in Geoff as he juggles his roles in ministry.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Monday, October 18, 2010

7 months after

Remembering His Faithfulness
We continue to celebrate with you as we offer thanks and praise to our mighty God for His goodness to us, especially for Ethan. Last September 27th, we celebrated Ethan’s 18th month birthday, remembering and rejoicing over how the Lord has sustained, provided and granted Ethan His gift of life. Last October 10th also marked another breakthrough as we celebrated God’s continuous protection. It has been 7 months since the transplant and Ethan’s blood tests indicated that Ethan remains stable. Ethan’s doctor said that he needs to be stable for at least 6 months to 1 year after transplant, though he will continue to have a low immune system because he’ll be taking immunosuppressant medicines for the rest of his life. By His grace, God gave Ethan a smooth recovery and continued to protect him from any kind of infection. We always recall what Ethan had gone through until the transplant day and everyday our hearts just shout with joy not only for what He has done, but also for His continuous presence, His mighty hand and His character revealed through Ethan.

Resting in His Arms
As we celebrate God’s miracle through Ethan, these past 3 months also served as God’s way of granting Tina a “sabbatical” since coming back last June from Singapore... a time of recovery and rest - physically, mentally and emotionally. Though our hearts and minds have been consistently covered with His blanket of peace these past 18 months, there has also been a mishmash of experiences - of joy, of grief, of fear, of hope, of waiting, of sadness, of praise, of despair, of persevering, of rejoicing and of loving and being loved. And so Tina praise God for granting her priceless time of reflection, of rest and retreat (she has not even looked at her Facebook since last year!) and of embracing precious time with Ethan - keeping an eye on him, feeding, giving medicines and having fun playing.

Raising Our Little Boy
“Thank you Jesus...” is the gentle whisper that comes out of our mouths everyday as we hold Ethan tightly in our arms. And every time Ethan hears the word “Jesus” he puts his hands together and is ready to pray! This is just one of God’s awesome gifts to us as parents -witnessing his growth, discovering more of his personality and enjoying His gift of ministry in nurturing, shepherding and loving Ethan. As God guides us in our growth as parents, we all the more grasp the depth of His love and nature as our Father - as we learn to play the different roles of a teacher, a disciplinarian, a playmate, a nurse, a chef, a discipler, a prayer warrior, a friend and many other surprising roles. What a wonderful privilege it is that God has given us, to be entrusted with His precious gift, Ethan.

Raring to Grow and Go
Ethan has been very active and is getting a bit taller. He now walks while we hold his hand and has made several brave attempts to walk on his own on the bed, knowing that it won’t hurt if he falls.
He has also made us smile and proud because he's been absorbing a lot, learning and recognizing things. He loves studying his abc books with pictures. He hands his book over to us and crawls over to our laps so we can teach him more words and objects. He loves to be asked what he just learned and tries to figure them out and points at the objects. He still loves making dance moves whenever he hears music and consistently snaps his fingers. When asked how old he is, he sticks out 1 finger in front of you. Also he points to his chest when asked, "Who's gwapo (handsome)?"
When our neighbor peeks through our window and calls his attention, he always smiles, waves "hello", blows a "flying kiss" and shows his "beautiful eyes" by blinking a lot of times. Indeed, we thank the Lord for his continuous development and ceaseless joyful spirit. 

Recognizing His Grace
The endless miracles we behold each day continue to humble us. As we recognize His grace that is sufficient for us, He helps us remember His extraordinary ways and amazing people who came alongside us. And so we continue to thank you, you whom God brought to Ethan’s path - families, friends, missionaries, pastors, churches, foundations, doctors, nurses, perfect strangers, brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. To you who willingly gave, earnestly prayed, sincerely loved, frequently encouraged, enthusiastically served and faithfully journeyed with us as a family, we truly praise God for you!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It’s been 4 months since the liver transplant

Today, we continue to celebrate Ethan’s new life with you! God continues to astound us as he watches over Ethan. His weight is now normal for his age, his yellowish-dark skin is much fairer, his eyes now white and no longer yellow, and his tummy no longer has fluid.

We also celebrate God’s goodness as Ethan continues to catch up on his milestones. He not only crawls but sits up, stands, identifies words and objects (like clock, light, rubber duckie,Tigger), sings and dances (while trying to snap his fingers and even claps), blinks his eyes when we say “beautiful eyes” and was able to say his first word, which was “car.” He also had a successful first time experience in making poop while sitting on his potty! Every night before going to sleep, we would tell him to pray first and he would sit up, put his hands together (sometimes he does it like clapping) and listens to Daddy pray. When we say “In Jesus’ name...”, he would agree by smiling and saying “uh-uh!”

But like any other growing baby, he’s experiencing mild discomfort from his sprouting teeth (now 6 in all) and cries from bumps and bruises when he gets so active. One thing has not changed though, he never fails to have a joyful spirit, always throwing us smiles, giggles and laughter. Best of all, Ethan is such a sweet baby that he always smothers us with kisses! What more could a parent ask for?

We’ve seen countless miracles of healing, & sustenance. We saw how God sustained Ethan for the past 3 weeks since coming back last June 5. He had his blood tests at 6:30 am every Wednesday at the St. Lukes Medical Center and he endured the waiting, wearing mask and even crying and trying to bear through the mistakes that pediatric doctors make as they try to extract blood from his small veins.

Ethan’s body or liver adjusted to the new environment, too. His liver enzymes became unstable and its numbers fluctuated based from the weekly blood tests. This is expected since generally, his liver needs about 6 months to a year to be stable, but the environment contributes to his condition. He is still very susceptible to viral & bacterial infections, and so we are not able to bring him to crowded places.

Ethan’s life has been and always is God’s way of telling us that He is with us, that He IS God and that He is alive. By God’s sufficient grace, we’ve learned to bask in his strength and sovereignty, and to take one day at a time with joy and faith knowing that He owns and loves us. We’ve learned to embrace every trial and circumstance and consider them as gifts and blessings which come our way, and that he truly honors our faith and obedience.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ethan's Ready to Go Home!

Praise God! Ethan's blood tests on April 5 proved to be extremely good and encouraging. Not all are at normal levels yet, but we're steadily getting there.
  • Bilirubin normal @ 26 (0-26 umol/L) - Feb 8 was 356. Everyday, it decreases. That's why his eyes are whiter and his skin is fairer now.
  • Liver enzymes are getting to normal levels: SGPT 45 (normal 0-40), SGOT 76 (normal 3-40), Albumin 32 (normal 37-51)
  • CBC is good; platelet @ 135 now (normal 140-460).
  • Electrolytes @ normal levels. This is the renal dysfunction indicator. Na 139 (normal 135-150), K 4.4 (normal 3.3-5.0)
  • His wounds (surgery cut, central line, ex-drain hole) are dry.
Ethan's taking 7 different types of medicines- ranging from immuno-suppressants to steroids and blood pressure medications- daily. Doctors are already lowering the dosage of steroids.

Even more exciting is that... Ethan is ready to be discharged from the hospital on April 6! Praise the Lord!

Tina is also doing good. She is regaining voice, mobility & strength. She can already walk short distances slowly. God continues to sustain her and Geoff as they take care of Ethan.

Our God truly is amazing! His faithfulness and love never fails! Do continue to remember the Fajardos in your prayers! Thank you for helping make the journey less difficult for Ethan and his family!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Praise God for Taking Good Care of Tina and Ethan

Praise God! Tina and Ethan are both doing well. Ethan will be celebrating his first birthday tomorrow!

Here are some updates on Tina and Ethan. Do continue to pray for them as they face the challenges and struggles involved in the recovery process.

Tina is experiencing less pain. She has stopped taking pain killers, though she still suffers from back pains. Her post-surgery wound still hurts whenever she stretches or bends. She can walk around longer now and is able to carry Ethan on her lap. Tina continues to take supplements and antibiotics, as she rests mainly at home. She has already visited Ethan twice at the hospital. Her check-up last Monday yielded good results. Her liver is normal, and so are her other blood parameters.

Ethan's condition is generally stable. His liver function is slowly becoming more normal, as indicated by his regular blood tests. Bilirubin-jaundice is going down, and ultrasounds show that blood is flowing well through the liver. His nasogastric tube was already removed last Saturday. He now takes food and medicines orally. His appetite is good, and he is showing good, positive signs of recovery.

The first two days after his tube was taken out, Ethan's appetite for milk and solid food were very good. However, this seemed to go down the past couple of days. He has suffered from bouts of fever. The doctors took blood to detect if there's early onset of infection. Nonetheless, they started giving him antibiotics.

Please continue to pray for Ethan as he adjusts to and copes with the side effects of his medications-- headaches, a bloated stomach, weakening muscles and bones... He is unable to sleep well some nights due to air in his tummy. Yesterday's tests show that his sodium level is low, thus, sodium infusion is being administered via IV. Ethan's enzyme levels are a bit high, but not critical, according to the doctor. Please continue to pray as high enzymes might indicate liver rejection.

According to the doctors, Ethan's condition will completely stabilize in 3-4 weeks after operation. They said that the up-down experience is quite normal for transplant patients... Let's continue to pray that god's wisdom be upon his doctors & nurses, and Ethan's new liver will have no rejection and infection.

Happy first birthday, Ethan! Your uncles and aunties send you much love and prayers on this special day... Thank you for being an encouragement and and inspiration to many. May God bless you and your Daddy and Mommy even more in the coming years... May your family continue to bring glory to God's Name!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thank You!

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Road to Recovery : Life after Transplant

Some helpful information about the transplant journey and updates on Ethan and Tina.

The Patient (information below were retrieved from the website of the Asian Centre for Liver Diseases and Transplantation):

  • Immediately after surgery, the patient is placed on intensive care for 5-7 days so that there can be continual monitoring for any infection, rejection, or poor functioning of the new liver. Rejection occurs because the transplanted liver is recognized as foreign by the body. This is the body's normal reaction to any foreign substance.

  • For the rest of his life, the patient will need to take immunosuppressants to prevent rejection of the new liver. Without these medications, his body will reject the new liver and could lose it. Immunosuppressants weaken the patient’s immune system and may result in him having an increased risk of infection.

  • Once the anesthesia wears off, patients should expect some pain and discomfort but strong painkillers will be administered through the IV to relieve the pain.

  • Seven tubes will be attached to the patient while in ICU to monitor the vital signs, to administer medication and to drain some of the body wastes and unnecessary fluids.

  • The Transplant Team, led by Dr K C Tan, will continue to assess and review patient’s condition everyday on rounds to determine plans for ongoing care and to see how well the new liver is functioning.

  • Patient will continue to receive fluids, medications and nutrition intravenously, but will eventually be re-introduced to a normal diet. Blood samples will be sent to the laboratory everyday. X-rays and scans are ordered by the team, if necessary. Patient will be asked to cough (or cry for babies) regularly and to do breathing exercises in order to expand his lungs and prevent pneumonia.

  • During this recovery period, the patient will feel better on some days than on others. This is the norm. Different patients have different recovery periods, with complications playing a major role in the recuperation rate. The degree of weakness he experiences will depend upon his physical condition prior to surgery.

Update on Ethan Fajardo:

  • Praise the Lord, for Ethan is now able to breathe independently. His breathing tube was already removed yesterday. There are six more tubes attached to him. Doctors are closely monitoring Ethan’s condition. Yesterday’s liver scan showed that his new liver is functioning well. The flow of the blood through the veins is also good. The next few days and weeks are crucial in the transplant process. Immunosuppressants are being given to him to make sure his body accepts the new liver perfectly. Vitamins and other food supplements are also given so that he will be much stronger and healthier. He is able to rest and sleep well-- even with the six tubes attached to him.

The Donor (information below were retrieved from the website of the Asian Centre for Liver Diseases and Transplantation):

  • Once the donor’s condition is stabilized, she will be transferred out of the ICU to the semi- or private room in the Liver Ward and will continue to be given pain medications and fluid via IV (intravenous) drip for a short period before beginning to eat and drink.

  • Provided there is no complication, the donor is encouraged to:

    • ‘Exercise’ as in walking around, flexing and relaxing the leg muscles, to help prevent the formation of blood clots and muscle wasting;
    • Take deep breaths and cough periodically to prevent pneumonia

  • The donor usually stays in the hospital for seven to ten days after the surgery. The donor can expect to experience pain and discomfort anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Update on Tina Fajardo:

  • Tina had already been transferred to a semi-private room yesterday. Doctors took out the catheter and the other machines and tubes connected to her. She was able to sit down for an hour this morning. The doctors are encouraging her to slowly start moving around and do simple exercises to ensure good blood flow. She is also doing some breathing exercises for her lungs. She is still on dextrose, but she has started following a soft diet. She still experiences some pain.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • Complete healing and recovery for Ethan and Tina.

  • That Ethan will be much stronger and healthier.

  • Rest, strength and guidance for Geoff as he takes care of Ethan and Tina in the next few weeks.

  • That God will continue to pour His abundant provision for the after-transplant needs of the Fajardos.

Thank you so much for trusting God with us for this miracle in the lives of Geoffrey, Tina, and Ethan. May God pour more of His abundant blessings upon you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Praise the Lord for the Successful Liver Transplant Procedure on Ethan

Praise the Lord for the successful liver transplant procedure on Ethan!!! Dr. KC Tan, the main transplant doctor, is very happy with the transplant. He told Geoff that Ethan is a strong boy. Ethan and Tina are both stable and are now in ICU. Our God is an awesome God!

Thank you for all your prayers! Please continue to pray that Ethan's body will accept the new liver perfectly, 100% and that there will be no infections and complications. Pray too for Tina's quick recovery and relief from pain. Let's continue to trust God for complete healing for both of them. Pray also for strength and good health for Geoff as he takes care of Tina and Ethan. Thank you Lord for answering our prayers!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Singapore Update: February 28

Truly, God is in control. The Ministry of Health approved the transplant procedure and Ethan will receive his new liver on March 10!

As the day of Ethan's transplant draws near, we continue to be amazed by God's faithfulness and provisions for the Fajardo family. Ethan's journey has allowed us to see the reality of God's awesome grace and sustaining presence. Prayers are being answered and doors are being opened. We continue to see God's miracles through His timely and abundant provision. And we are excited to see God's marvelous works as the miracle story of Ethan unfolds.

On February 26, Geoffrey, Tina, and Ethan underwent the assessment procedure of the Ethics Committee of Singapore's Ministry of Health. Dr. KC Tan's team presented Ethan's case to the ministry representatives, hospital GM, and board representatives and officers. Tina and Geof were interviewed individually. When Tina was asked if there's a chance that she would change her mind about being the liver donor, she said, "...I no longer want to see my baby suffer or experience discomfort and pain. I want to give him a chance to live and have a normal life..."

One of the committee members remarked that, "God must be in control of everything... bringing you here." Another committee member touched Ethan's head before the Fajardos left and said, "God bless you and make you well... you'll be running when we see you again."

After the interview, blood tests were administered on Ethan. The results indicate that Ethan's condition is stable, except for his low albumin level, which continues to cause him to have a big tummy. The build-up of fluid in Ethan's stomach will cause difficulties during operation, and one of Ethan's doctors, Dr. Lee, advised that Ethan might need an albumin transfusion a few days before the transplant.

Please continue to pray for the Fajardos. If Ethan's albumin level doesn't improve, then, the transfusion on March 8 will be necessary. Please also pray that Ethan will continue to feed well. Mommy Tina's ecstatic that baby Ethan is allowed to have ice cream, as this is a good source of calories. Ethan had his first ice cream on his 11th month birthday celebration last February 27!

As of February 26, 80% of the total amount needed for the transplant process has been received and paid to the hospital. This is enough to pay for the actual cost of the transplant. We are waiting for the remaining 20% that have been pledged to cover some of the after transplant expenses and medicine bills to come in the next few days.

Again, we are overflowing with thanks to our God for His provision. Join us in trusting God for His provision for whatever other needs that may come up.

In the next three weeks, let's ask our great God to pour out insurmountable miracles upon Ethan's life. Please join us, as we pray...

... that God will guide the hands of the doctors who will perform the transplant.
... that God will strengthen Ethan's body so that he can handle all the procedures that will be administered on him.
... that Tina and Ethan will be in excellent health, especially in the days leading to the transplant.
... that God will strengthen and sustain Tina as she undergoes major surgery to donate her liver.
... that there will be no complications for Ethan and Tina, and for immediate healing for Tina.
... that Ethan's body will not reject the liver.
... that God will bless Geoff with strength, good health, and wisdom as he cares for and attends to the needs of Tina and Ethan.
... that God will bless the family with the right people who will assist them during the transplant recovery time.
... for spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, and other preparations as the transplant date draws near.
... for God's continuous provisions for the family's post-transplant needs.
… that the clotting time or the PTT (partial thromboplastin time) of ethan will be lesser (shorter). The Vit K he gets injection weekly helps with this.. that his body will absorb it well.

Barely a year old, Ethan -- without actually knowing or being fully aware of all that's happening -- is already a living testimony of God's tremendous love and faithfulness. The process may be long and really faith-stretching but we are grateful that God has made you a part of Ethan's journey. Thank you for being a part of Ethan's life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Singapore Update: February 18

Tina has been declared medically fit to be Ethan’s liver donor! Praise God! There is just one more interview for the Fajardo family to go through and that is with the Singapore Ministry of Health representatives, slated on February 26. They are the ones who will give the final approval for the transplant to take place. God-willing, the target date for the liver transplant is on March 5 or 6.

As of now, the Fajardos are preparing themselves physically for the big date. Ethan was given vaccines and is taking additional vitamins to nourish his body, hopefully making him stronger. Tina is taking much needed rest and also physically preparing for the procedure. Geoff was advised to take four kinds of medications for his lung condition in the next six months to prevent possible infections to his family. Pray for their physical condition—for optimal good health in the coming days. Most importantly, pray that Geoff and Tina will be emotionally and spiritually equipped and nourished for more challenges ahead.

The cost of living in Singapore is a test of faith for the Fajardos. But the Lord never fails to encourage them along the way. Ate Neri Mamburam (their host) continues to be very kind, generous and hospitable. Geoff’s niece, Deb, and Ansen Li, have been very helpful, especially in running errands for them. Then there’s one specialist (a pastor’s son) who told the Fajardos during one medical visit, “Since you are missionaries, I will waive my fee. And I will pray that everything will be ok.” Thank God for they were able to save S$200 on that consultation fee! Let’s continue to ask God for more compassionate and generous specialists/surgeons.

Financial Challenge: the hospital, ACLDT, needs to receive S$120,000 (plus 7% GST) by February 26 in order for the transplant to take place on March 5 or 6. Family and friends are raising the much-needed amount by challenging individuals, foundations and organizations. Please pray that the Lord will abundantly supply the amount by February 23. Pray for favorable responses from prospective donors.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Singapore: Day One

The Fajardo family arrived in Singapore on February 7 (Sunday). The flight to Changi airport went smoothly -- Ethan ate well while at the Manila airport, and was relaxed and quiet on the plane. He even fell asleep!

Praise God for His provision of two free round trip tickets for the Fajardos. Thank God also for the stewardesses who were extremely friendly in assisting Grandma and Tina during the flight-- as Tina didn't feel well while on the plane.

Ms. Neri Mamburam, Deb (Geoff's niece), and Ansen Li picked the Fajardos up from the airport. They are now staying at Ate Neri's home (thank God for her hospitality)... The house is especially nice and clean---perfect for Ethan's condition!

On Monday, the family will meet with one of the doctors who is facilitating the tests for Ethan. Tina will have her re-assessment done on Tuesday (Singaporean doctors will perform a second round of tests to confirm her donor qualifications -- this is a standard practice for ACLDT).

Please pray for Tina and Ethan-- that they won't get sick. Also, for quick and accurate tests for Ethan.

Please continue to pray for God's abundant provisions. A significant amount is still needed to cover the cost of the transplant and the after care.

PS. ACLDT means "Asian Centre For Liver Diseases & Transplantation"