Four years ago, in Sierra Leone, an organization called Mercy Ships performed surgery on his jaw, separating the bones and freeing up his mouth so he could open it once again.
Two years ago, an intern at the children's home where Tejan lives saw the deformed state of Tejan's leg and wanted to do something to help. She came home to Montana, where she told her parents of Tejan's condition and set in motion the plan to bring him here for the surgery he had in September.
However, after his arrival, it became clear that Tejan's jaw was locked again. Unfortunately, he did not do the exercises necessary to keep the bones from fusing again. He could not open his mouth at all.
It had taken two years to arrange for Shriner's to take on Tejan's leg problems. However, the jaw issue was totally out of their scope. While we felt it was imperative to take care of his jaw problem (and were advised by the doctors at Shriners that the locked jaw was actually a much more serious medical problem,) we were overwhelmed with the task of finding someone who would take on his case. Do you just go through the phone book and start telling his story to every oral surgeon you can find? Do you tell everyone you know about his needs and hope for the best? We didn't know. So we just started praying. And talking.
About a week after we had gotten home from the hospital after his leg surgery, my friend Christa went to a Moms in Touch prayer meeting. She shared about T.'s jaw and asked the women to pray. They did. And after the meeting, one of them approached Christa and said she had a sister who worked for an oral surgeon in town, and would it be okay for her to tell her sister about Tejan?
The next day, I got a call from this doctor's office, asking if I could bring Tejan in for an exam the following afternoon.
So I did.
And after an x-ray and five minutes with the Tejan, this wonderful, giving doctor said, "We're going to fix you up, young man."
A couple of minutes after the doctor left the room, one of his assistants came back and asked, "Now we just want to be clear. Are there any resources available for Tejan? Insurance? Anything?"
I looked her straight in the eye and said, "He's an orphan. From Africa. There is nothing."
"Okay," she replied. "We just wanted to know what we were dealing with."
From that day on, Dr. Pat Collins and his son, Chad, took on Tejan's case with so much enthusiasm and excitement, I have been blown away.
They secured the hospital, free of charge. Anesthesiologists, pediatricians, radiologists, prescriptions - all covered. They found a physical therapist to donate his services. And a dentist to address his dental needs (which are HUGE.) They've treated us like family. And celebrated Tejan's recovery as if he were their own child.
And last week, they took us all out to Chuck E. Cheese to applaud T.'s progress and his ability to eat pizza after so many years of hardly being able to eat anything. They bought more pizza and tokens than I've ever seen and all four of my kids had the best time I think they've ever had there.
I've met some pretty amazing medical professionals on this journey.
But Pat and Chad Collins top the list, as far as I'm concerned.
So today, on the day before Thanksgiving, I offer thanks for these two amazing doctors.
I'm telling you, they're the cream of the crop.
Thank you for taking care of Tejan.
And for loving him so much.
For your time.
And for going the extra mile.
God bless you both...