Teen joins father, Dr. Victor Baum, on mission to China

Saturday August 25, 2007 11:28:32 AM

Dr. Baum and his daughter, SophieSophie Baum is the sixteen year old daughter of medical volunteer Dr. Victor Baum, a Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics and the University of Virginia's Vice-Chair of Anesthesiology. For eleven years, Dr. Baum has worked with ICHF as an anesthesiologist and pediatric intensivist. Sophie accompanied her dad on his latest ICHF trip to China which provided this field hockey, squash and cello playing young lady with an eye opening cultural experience few teenagers have. She got the idea from her older sister who had made several trips with their dad.

Sophie was put to work as a full member of the medical team. She explains, "My job title was Child Life Specialist. For the two weeks, I went into the ICU every morning and played with the kids. We blew bubbles, colored pictures and just had fun. I painted their nails too- they loved that (even the boys!)." Even though Sophie does not speak Chinese, she was able to communicate with the kids, "I knew I was getting through to the kids when I saw their faces light up when I brought out a new bottle of bubbles, gave a kid a cute hair clip or a small stuffed animal!" Sophie helps patient with her coloring

Sophie also observed surgeries. It was a completely new experience for her and much beyond what she watches on the TV series, Grey's Anatomy.  "I'm pretty sure it was the coolest thing I've ever seen. Dr. Novick is an amazing surgeon-the operating environment was really calm and collected."

For Sophie the most difficult times were when a child got very sick or died after his surgery. She felt helpless and it was her first personal encounter with death. "That [death] was really difficult for me... The little boy was always smiling and laughing and really brought happiness into the hospital. When he was gone things weren't quite the same. We all missed him and felt the lack of his presence."

On the lighter side, like many teens, Sophie's not used to eating ‘strange' food. It was a big cultural experience for her eating with the team. Greatly encouraged by Dr. Novick who assured her she was about it eat was cow stomach. Sophie picked it up with her chopsticks and quickly ate it. "It was actually bull testicle and when I told my friends, they were all grossed out! Even I'm grossed out!"

Sophie with recovering patientSophie's experiences working with the ICHF medical team in China has made her aware of how fortunate she is. "It really opened my eyes to how lucky I am and made me want to work to help others who need aide. It made me take a step back and think about what I could really do to help people everywhere, not just around the world, but even in my community. This trip was definitely a defining experience in my life."

When asked what she would tell the donors and sponsors about the difference their Sophie and the whole unitcontributions make, Sophie was clear, "ICHF couldn't function without its donors and sponsors; it relies so much on the generosity of others, which it uses to make the world a better place....ICHF  gives children a second chance at life where there is little hope, and if that's not worth support, I don't know what is!"