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“Yeah, I feel so much better,” Katie replies.

“I want to just reach through and touch it,” Cramer says wistfully. Her fingers grazed the screen of her laptop. “I’m rubbing your hair, Katie.”

A cough from Katie triggers a flurry of other questions: How is your cough? Are your lips dry? Are you sleeping OK? What are your counts?

Katie says her cough is getting better, her counts are still at zero and she just got a transfusion of platelets. But she’s also on morphine to ease the pain in her back. Cramer looks worried.

Cramer, who describes herself as “just a mom,” never thought she would return to China under such circumstances. Her Mandarin is limited to “ni hao” _ “hello” _ and her translator has backed out without giving a reason. She has five days left in China.


The Fourth of July came and went. Cramer barely noticed. Good news arrived on Monday, when the Red Cross agreed to send samples of four of the nine potential matches to California for further testing. The agency also said it would support Cramer’s trip to Guangxi.

On Tuesday, Cramer arrived in the Guangxi capital of Nanning, where the Red Cross arranged for her to meet with local reporters. Cramer’s inexperience with the media showed in her soft-spoken manner and shy shrugs. Her entourage consisted of a staffer from a U.S. group that helps orphans and two American teenagers fluent in Chinese. They weren’t professional translators, but their efforts, combined with Cramer’s sincerity and Katie’s plight, moved many of the reporters.

“I don’t have a lot of time with Katie. She doesn’t have years to look. She doesn’t have months to have a transplant,” Cramer says. “It has to be soon. It’s urgent.”

The interviews were emotionally exhausting for Cramer, who repeatedly recounted Katie’s adoption, her life in the U.S., and the cancer diagnosis. She barely slept.

On Wednesday night, Cramer received an unexpected call on Skype. It was Susan Wong, a friend, with bad news. Katie was transferred to intensive care because the pneumonia was putting stress on her heart.

Cramer dropped into her chair, sighed and fell silent. She rested her forehead on one hand and shut her eyes.

“I know you don’t want to hear it, but the doctors are just being cautious, Sherrie,” Wong says. “You know, God’s gonna pull her through this. He didn’t send you all the way over to China, OK, and make all these things happen, for her not to get better.”

After the call, Cramer sighs. “That’s just where she has to be right now and I can’t do anything about it. Just pray.”

With two days left in China, she could only hope her appeal was getting out.

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