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.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Blessed Fast

A matter of minutes after the gate closed behind Clercineau, Junes and Saraphina, yesterday, the doorbell rang. A Haitian man with a strange accent carried a baby girl across the threshold. Upstairs in the NICU, word reached us that the infant was very small and very hungry. We sent down a bottle of formula with a nurse.

Madame Bernard returned with a tightly swaddled bundle. Unwrapping it, we found a 5lb 6 oz baby girl with a head of thick, black curly hair. Bloated with fluid, the skin was peeling from her legs and she was extremely pale.

Rosena is 5 months old. She was breast fed for the first 15 days of her life, until her Mother became sick and died, following a brief illness. Rosena was fed plantains after that. Plantains are rich in carbohydrates, but tiny babies lack the chewing and swalling skils that are needed to take in enough plantain to meet their energy needs. Plantains also lack protein

The result: a baby girl who weights a fraction what the average baby her age does. Underneath the swelling, her muscles have wasted away. Rosena is suffering from Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM), also known as Kwashiorkor. In all likelihood, Rosena will be completely emaciated once the swelling goes down....if she makes it through the initial phase of her treatment, that is.

Babies under the age of 6 months do not tend to survive Protein-Energy Malnutrition. We hope that Rosena's organs are mature enough to withstand the damage that Kwashiorkor causes. There are some promising signs: Rosena is alert and her body temperature and her blood sugar levels are stable. She also seems hungry. These things tell us that Rosena is absorbing and metabolising the nutrition in her feeds. These are reasons to be hopeful.

There are also some worrying signs that Rosena may be in heart failure - her swelling became worse overnight. This morning, it was so bad that she couldn't swallow.

We are proceeding very carefully with Rosena's care and she is being monitored constantly. We are doing absolutely everything that we can to ensure that she lives. She needs more than good nutrition and good medecine. She is getting that. Rosena is also being held and comforted and prayed over. Her legs and her feet are very tense from the fluid that has leaked under the skin. This creates a lot of pressure, which is painful for Rosena.

May God give you strength and healing my little lady, and may you feel the love of God flowing through us, to you.

In the midst of the sorrow we felt at losing our Cazalle children, God blessed us with you, Rosena. It is my prayer that God will bless you with the gift of life.

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