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Ingrid Grows Up!

Written by Jeff Degner, Healing the Children IN/IL Chapter Director

I first met Ingrid in 1994, acting as her escort for the Wisconsin Chapter of Healing the Children. She was tiny, frail and weak, and born without an esophagus. Weeks later, in a Milwaukee hospital, a complicated surgery created a new esophagus for her. During that surgery, her heart stopped twice. Her ultimate recovery was long and difficult as Ingrid learned how to eat and swallow solid food. The first picture shows Ingrid and me on our flight to America.

Ingrid and I did not see each other again for almost 20 years. In that time, she had returned to the USA for further medical treatments and eventually was adopted by a loving family in Milwaukee, because she failed to thrive in her native country. In Milwaukee, she grew up as a normal child and received her higher education at St. Norbert College in Green Bay – coincidentally, my own Alma Mater, and finished her degree in Minneapolis at the Minneapolis College of Arts and Design. In December of 2013, we met in the student union on the St. Norbert College campus. This was the first time I had been with Ingrid since carrying her in my arms as a terribly sick baby so many years earlier. When I saw her again, I cried with joy.

Today, Ingrid remains healthy, happy and is the executive assistant at a performing arts center in Eau Claire. She also works part time at an ice cream shop. She and her boyfriend recently got a puppy: a cute, little Newfoundland which probably won’t stay little for long.

I am sharing Ingrid’s Healing the Children happy-recovery story today because, as we enter the month of June, many folks, in many nations, are starting to make their own recoveries, this time from the COVID-19 pandemic. And yes, there is still so much to be accomplished before lives become “normal” again. For example, with Healing the Children, our international programs, both inbound and outbound, are temporarily suspended.

But we at HTC have great faith that, with time, we will once again be able to arrange medical attention for needy children, around the world or around the block. And perhaps one of them will be a tiny little girl, just like Ingrid. Stay safe!

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