In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Breath. Life. Hope

For anyone who doesn't know, the British Isles and much of Northern Europe is currently experiencing a big freeze; the coldest winter since 1981. Last Wednesday, as I sat at Edinburgh airport, it really looked as though I was going to be 'grounded' by heavy snow and ice.

It was a great encouragement to me that I made it to Haiti, as scheduled. In the end, mine was the last flight that ran between Edinburgh and London. It definitely felt as though my plans were being guarded. It is always nice to be favoured!

Back at GLA, the babies at the main house were exceptionally warm and enthusiastic in their welcomes. It was so good to be back!

Baby girl A needed immediate attention. For a horrible moment, as I gazed down at my new little charge, so still and so pale in her bassinet, I thought she was dead. I put my hand on her chest and watched. After a few seconds, with great relief, I felt her chest rise and fall under my palm, and I exhaled. She was cold and very dehydrated but there was breath in her body; life and hope.

This little one is thought to be around 9 months old. She came via another orphanage, and has been very sick since she arrived. With profuse diarrhoea, terrible stomach cramps, vomiting that makes it very difficult to hold anything down, sores in her mouth and in her nappy area from thrush, and, an ear infection, this little one is truly stricken.

She was so dehydrated that our Nurse director was unable to find a vein anywhere in Baby A's body. Thankfully, she still had good circulation to her head and Dixie managed to site an IV line in a large vessel in the baby's scalp. She has needed several litres of IV serum, 3 antibiotics to treat her various infections, and miconazole for the thrush.

Today she looks better, and for the first time, I dare to not just hope, but believe she might live. She is interested in her surroundings. She likes to be held and hugged, and, this morning, when I leaned over to kiss her, I got that all important smile that signifies joy and strength. Where there is joy and strength, there is the will to live. That is a given.

Baby A is not out of danger yet. She is showing signs of acute malnutrition. Her skin is loose around her stomach and she has dermatitis from zinc deficiency. Her feet are also swollen. That is a sign of protein deficiency and protein deficiency is an emergency. It is critical that this baby begins to tolerate nutrition so that her body can fight infection. Unfortunately, She is in pain from her infections and is unable to suck or swallow because of the thrush. Her gut has also been damaged by chronic diarrhoea and so she feels nauseated and has no appetite. We have put an NG feeding tube down and we are using that to give Baby A small frequent volumes of a hypoallergenic milk formula. We are also giving medications to control her vomiting. And we are praying

I am so thankful that we have been given this baby. She came with a very poor prognosis. She had days to live without basic emergency treatment. With an IV she might have lived a month. We hope to change that.


Lish Burton said...

We are praying for you and all of Haiti following this horrible earthquake! God bless you!

James Thomson said...

Susan, just heard your account of the earthquake on BBC News. You're in my prayers and I'm about the make a donation to the nursery. I hope that the international community get a truck full of food and water to you soon.

Just Me said...

I linked to your blog from Blogs for a Cause. What a wonderful ministry you are doing there with God's Littlest Angels. Praying for you and everyone there in Haiti.

Daniel Harfleet said...

Heard you on CNN, thoughts go out to you and those you help.