Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On the Outside Looking in

This is a guest post.

"For my diary project, I chose to write about a circumcision death from the viewpoint of the older sister. In this fictional narrative, Joey was born with Left Hypoplastic Heart Syndrome, previously a fatal condition. (Learn more here: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1353)

 Even with modern medicine, 3 intensive surgeries over several years or a complete heart transplant, many of them do not survive. “Heart babies” as they are lovingly called, are extremely fragile, require oxygen and are usually on immune-suppressant drugs. Circumcision is typically delayed for these fragile babies, sometimes until preschool age or longer. (And of course, all unnecessary surgery should be delayed until the child is an adult and can choose for himself what he wants altered on his body).

I think the impact of loss on siblings is often forgotten or ignored in our culture of death, as is the tragedy of circumcision complications. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that over 200 baby boys die from circumcision annually and it takes just a couple ounces for a newborn to hemorrhage critically.

I hope my project sheds light on how these preventable losses impact more than just the victim and the parents. I learned about this because my brother in law was a “heart baby” and was circumcised. My nephew Ian received additional screening to make sure he didn’t have a heart defect and he is not circumcised.

Heart defects occur in 1 out of every 100 babies and no definite causes have been discovered. The least we can do is protect them from unnecessary surgery and see each day with them as a gift from God."

And here is my project:

August 16th, 2010

Dear Diary,

Guess what? My mommy and daddy went to the hospital today! They say my baby brother is going to be born soon. I’m so excited. It’ll be nice to have a baby brother to cuddle. My tummy has butterflies in it and I can’t eat. I wonder what color his eyes will be and if he will like me the most. I’m going to be the best big sister ever!

August 24th, 2010

Dear Diary,

The doctors say my brother Joey is missing part of his heart. They say it’s called Left Hypoplastic Heart Syndrome. It sounds very scary. They say he needs 3 surgeries and might not make it. Tonight I prayed to Jesus, asking Him to protect my new little brother. I wonder if he is in pain. He’s so small looking, covered in tubes and surrounded by hospital machinery.

October 5th, 2010

Dear Diary,

Today my mom said Joey is going to be circumcised. I think circumcision is where they cut off some of your private parts. I don’t understand. I thought the doctor said his heart was broken, not his pee-pee. Why are they focusing on that part? I wonder if it will hurt him.

October 5th, 2010

Dear Diary,

I’m writing again because I’m nervous and don’t know what to do. Mommy looks really scared. She is crying a lot. She said the doctor cut Joey too much, “nicked an artery” or something. He won’t stop bleeding and needs more oxygen. I’m so scared for Joey. Everyone seems upset and is rushing around. I feel dizzy.

October 6th, 2010

Dear Diary,

Today is the worst day of my life. Mommy says Joey’s heart stopped and he went to Jesus in heaven. I can’t stop crying. Everyone is crying. It feels like a bad dream and I am just going to wake up and find out Joey is okay and he never got this circumcision thing and he didn’t bleed and his heart is okay. But I keep pinching my arm and nothing happens.

October 20th, 2010

Dear Diary,

I heard Mommy talking on the phone in a whisper. She said people were being mean about Joey. She said he didn’t die from his circumcision. He died from his broken heart and that it was God’s will. Why would God do this to my little brother? I don’t think God circumcised him and made him bleed so much. I thought God loved us and didn’t want to hurt us. I think the doctors hurt Joey, not God.

October 22nd, 2010

Dear Diary,

Daddy said they are going to do this thing called cremation, where his body is burned up into ashes for the funeral. Everyday we get flowers and cards. Everyone seems sorry that Joey went to heaven. They stare at me but I don’t know what to say back to them. I want to scream and jump up and down. It’s moving so fast but in slow motion. If I close my eyes, I can still see him, with his little nose tube and that twinkle in his eyes. I don’t see him as ashes. I wonder if Mommy and Daddy will cremate me if I go to heaven. Will they close their eyes and remember me?

November 17th, 2010

I want to know if I’m circumcised. I read babies get circumcised because God said to. I’m getting mad at God. I don’t care if He can hear this in my head. He’s a mean God, to tell parents to cut privates parts on their babies and hurt them. I touched my private parts to see if they hurt. They seem okay. I can’t remember if I was circumcised. I asked my friend Toby and he laughed at me and said only boys are circumcised. I don’t know if I can believe him or not. I asked Mommy if I was circumcised and she said to stop talking about it. I’m so confused. Why is everyone quiet about circumcision?"

~Olivia Lauren

Every baby deserves to be protected from medically unnecessary surgery, sick babies most especially. Would you circumcise this baby? 
Additional Resources:

Meet Baby Theo, who has LHHS. He was not born in America and did not get circumcised:

How much blood loss can kill a baby?

A baby with LHHS is circumcised, hemorrhages from it and dies the next morning after his heart stops:

Routine infant circumcision causes at least 100 deaths annually:


  1. This made my eyes well up with tears. Well written, it is beautiful that it is from the perspective of a child. The innocence and confusion is very vivid.

  2. WOW! I'm stunned! This is really well done! Great job Olivia!

    The story of intact Theo Davies surviving Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is amazing! Praise God for healing Theo!