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, 27 March 2011

Pray For A Smile

Kervens is making steady progress. He has gained over a pound since he arrived, but he still has a long way to go.

He is my miracle baby. It was by God's mercy that Kervens made it to GLA, just in time. I am filled with gratitude to the God who answered my prayers, and gave me the wisdom I needed to keep Kervens alive during the days that he was critically ill, and on the brink of death.

Two weeks ago today, Kervens arrived at GLA. The feeding tube is out now, and he no longer needs oxygen to help him breathe, or an incubator to keep him warm. We are beyond the critical period, and hope to see rapid weight gain, while we continue to correct his electrolyte and nutrient imbalances.

Kervens remains weak. He does not suck well from a bottle and his legs are stiff. Pray for improvements in these areas, and pray for a smile. This child has suffered more in his three months on this earth than any baby ever should. A smile will signify spiritual healing. It will be evidence of the oil of joy, where mourning might have been.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Riches of the Poor

'Petite se riches melere'
'Children are the riches of the poor' (Haitian proverb)

On Saturday night, in a near-desert area, north of Port-au-Prince, an expectant Mother spiked a high fever. On Sunday, when her stomach was seized by gripping pains, her heart was overcome with dread. Please, Lord, not again. Italic

Erikson, was born 10 weeks prematurely in Cazale. He is is Mother's 4th child. The children who came before him all died in the days after they were born, or were miscarried in late pregnancy.

Erikson was born yesterday, desperately ill. We treated him in GLA's NICU for pneumonia and suspected meningitis. He was in a lot of pain.

I was up all night stabilising Erikson. He was on CPAP and was given high doses of IV antibiotics. He was also treated for seizures .

As I was typing up this post, I was called to the NICU. Erikson had stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated.

His Mother is a Christian lady. She has suffered tremendous loss, three times over, and yet, her trust in the Lord, and by extension, her trust in the GLA nursing staff, is absolute.

I cried out to God for mercy. I wanted to be able to send this mother home with treasure in her arms, a precious baby baby, strong and healthy. Her inheritance from the Lord.

Erikson died tonight. His devastated Mother will leave GLA with nothing but our prayers.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

An Update on Kervens

By Tuesday morning, Kervens was receiving very small feeds of breast-milk, He was having difficulty keeping keeping his blood sugar up and and his heart rate was slow and irregular. These can be ominous signs. Often, the are are herald s of death in severely malnourished children. Yet I felt absolutely no sense of panic.

Kerven's body had been rigid and unconscious just 12 hours before, and now, his tiny fists had unclenched and his limbs were relaxed. It felt as miraculous as it was beautiful.

We continued to add extra sugar and electrolytes to Kervens feeds, to replenish those that his body lacked. Over the course of the day, the twig-limbed, elfin baby became increasingly more stable. By 5pm, he was alert, awake and moving around in his incubator. He was digesting his breast milk.

Soon, he was crying ever hour for feeds. It was wonderful to see signs of hunger: this told us that Kervens damaged organs were processing the nutrients in his milk and his body was healing.

He has gained 10 ounces in 3 days. Please continue to pray. He is severely anemic and he has a congenital malformation that affects his chest wall and causes breathing difficulties. The next 10 days will be critical for him. For now, I have a perfect peace that comes from knowing that we are doing all we can. The rest is up to God.

'Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them' (Psalm 139:16)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Oil of Joy.

Kevens is 3 months old. He weighs 4lb 2oz. He is severely malnourished, and completely emaciated, with jutting bones, a concave chest and skin that hangs like an oversized suit from his shrunken frame.
He and his mother were referred to GLA for medical assistance, by a Catholic mission Hospital in Cite Soleil. Kervens has pneumonia on both lungs. Last night he was cold, and his heart rate kept dropping. His tiny body was stiff, and he was drifting in and out of consciousness. I didn't expect that he would surive to see another day.

By some miracle, Kervens opened his eyes this morning, and his gaze fixed on mine...........

We have stabalised this tiny boy, and are very carefully managing his care, so as not to overwhelm his delicate organs. Please pray for him,

.....'beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning'... (Isaiah 61:3)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Beating The Odds

Many people do not know that diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of 5 in the developing world. At GLA's main house, we are not at all surprised by the statistic.

We live in a desperately impoverished country, where Mothers are so poorly nourished that their babies show signs of malnutrition from birth. The dire consequence of this is that minor infections can be serious and even life threatening to Haitian infants.

For the past month, Port-au-Prince has been struck by an epidemic of viral gastroenteritis. Healthy adults have felt ghastly for a day or two, but have then quickly recovered. For babies and young children, though, symptoms have been more severe and have lasted for weeks rather than days.

In the past week, 15 of the babies in the nursery have been unwell with high fevers, watery diarrhoea and vomiting. These children have required round the clock care and supervision to ensure that they did not become dangerously dehydrated. This has been hard work.

Some babies needed IV's. Some had to be drip-fed Oral Rehydration Solution continuously because this was the only way that that they could absorb it. We found that giving even an ounce at a time resulted in many babies losing more fluid than we gave them through diarrhoea and vomiting.

Keeping these babies hydrated was important, since dehydration is usually the cause of death in children who succumb to severe diarrhoea. One year old Ken was one of the children who had to be drip fed oral rehydration solution after becoming very dehydrated. The next day, he was yelling his head off for a bowl of cereal and getting into all kinds of things!

Even as I thanked God for Ken's rapid recovery, I was filled with dread at the thought of how many babies die of dehydration,in Haiti, just hours before they would have gotten over the virus that made them sick.

Since many of our babies are malnourished, it is critically important to pay particular attention to their nutrition while they are unwell and in the first few weeks after they get better. One thing we give, when we have it, is high doses of Zinc. Zink has been proven to make the diarrhoea less severity, to make it pass quicker and to prevent children in the developing world from catching other stomach viruses in the months after they have recovered.

Research also suggests that the sooner babies children start taking their normal diet again when they have diarrhoea, the faster they get better. Since many of our children have a history of malnutrition and their digestive systems are especially weak, we sometimes have to drip feed this nutrition for a few days, the same way we drip fed the oral rehydration solution. It is hard work, but it is very important to support their bodies, so that they can heal.

It is rewarding to see the difference that this intensive care has made to our 'angels'. We are thankful that they are all getting better and we pray that they will continue to grow stronger over the next few days and weeks.

Some of them were very ill, but they have beaten some grim odds. Other children are not so lucky, children like Frandline and Donley. I am mindful of that tonight.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Send Me Another

Lovely died in the early hours of Monday morning. We think that her organs were too immature, and perhaps, too damaged by malnutrition, to allow for her continued survival.

Honestly, I am too stunned and defeated to ascribe any special meaning or purpose to Lovely's life and death. She leaves behind a broken Mother, 18 years old, sick and orphaned. There is nothing right or fair about that, and I certainly don't want to minimise her loss with flowery sentiments.

We gave Lovely the best that we had to give. The best care, the best medicine, and it wasn't enough. The only thing left is a hope that God has all ready healed what we could not.

No, I have no fancy words, just that hope, and tears for a bereft young girl, and a heart felt cry;

Lord, send me another, and give us the knowledge and wisdom that the world lacks, so that the next one might survive against seemingly impossible odds.