Wednesday, February 19, 2003


A few years ago when the Ohio legislature was debating Safe Haven legislation, one of the chief concerns among even the bill’s most ardent supporters was medical history. What happens if a child, abandoned legally, anonymously and with no history, develops a serious medical condition that demands family and genetic history for diagnosis and treatment? One of the dumpster-do-gooders, a neatly dressed woman from Akron, informed a rather discomforted committee, “If the child is sick, he’ll just have to live with it.”

The only problem with that is that some won’t “just have live with it.” They’ll die.

Kailee Wells, 6 was abandoned anonymously in China, At the age of 10 days she was left on the steps of a teacher- training college in impoverished Chandge, Hunan province. After spending the first year of her life in a local orphanage, under the name of Changban (Never Alone) she was adopted by Linda and Owen Wells from Alburquerque, New Mexico. Last year Kailee was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, which prevents the creation of new blood cells. The disease, unless it can be stemmed through a bone marrow transplant, will eventually cause her body’s supply of blood to dry up, and she will die. Blood relatives, especially siblings, offer the greatest donor compatibility, but because she was abandoned anonymously, Kailee has no likely genetic donors. Doctors have searched for a match among 9 million names in global bone marrow donor databases, and have found none. For the last year she has been kept alive by blood transfusions, chemotherapy and steroids. Kailee will die within months if a compatible donor cannot be found.

This week, Linda Wells left the critically ill Kailee in New Mexico to make a desperate journey to China in a last ditch attempt to save her daughter’s life. The Chinese Red Cross, in an unprecedented publicity campaign and with only three days notice, has launched the largest bone marrow donor drive in the country’s history with plenty of domestic and international media coverage. Officials expect thousands of people “touched by the love story” to volunteer in a long-shot attempt to find a donor. Soon Linda Wells will visit Chandge hoping to locate Kailee’s biological family. It is unclear, however, if Chinese welfare officials will help or hinder her search. They have so far refused to waive the child abandonment penalties, including fines and imprisonment, that could be brought against her biological parents if they come forward to save her.

Baby abandonment in China is illegal, yet over-population, rural poverty, the one-child policy and other coercive reproductive practices as well as the thousands-year old tradition of female infant abandonment, make anonymous, secret abandonment inevitable. The United States suffers no such disability, has no such excuse. Yet to date 42 states have passed Safe Haven laws, which permit “legal” newborn abandonment. Many states make no provision for collection of medical and genetic histories; all support and encourage the creation, on purpose, of undocumented, unhistoried and dehistoried children like Kailee.

Linda Wells knows she’s shooting against the odds, but says, “We are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our baby girl alive…..At least we’ll know we did everything possible, everything within our power, to save our little girl.”

Safe Haven advocates, especially in those states where bills are currently pending, need to take a long hard look at Kailee.

How many Kailees will be created in Safe Havens?

How many Kailees will be sick?

How many Kailees will just have to live with it?

How many Kailles will die?

Kailee is Never Alone. But how many others will be?

For more information on bone marrow donation visit the National Marrow Donor Program or call your local Red Cross.

Marley Elizabeth Greiner
Executive Chair, Bastard Nation

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