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, 13 July 2011

Merciful, Loving and Good

Last Sunday afternoon, the NICU staff called me to see a sick baby.

Kelly, an ex-preterm infant, had suddenly developed severe croup symptoms. He had a strangled-sounding cough, and his airway was so compromised that he couldn't swallow. His blood oxygen levels were low and frothy secretions were bubbling from his mouth and nose.I knew this was an emergency. I knew Kelly needed a competent anesthetist. I knew there were none close-by.

This couldn't really be happening to Kelly! He had been born 2 months prematurely and had survived at home for a month without an incubator, or oxygen. He had bean slowly starving, but he had made it here. He had done so well with us; he had filled out. He had become a beautiful, thriving baby and he had never been sick before..... I exhaled a long breath. I was attached to this baby, I was afraid for him, but Kelly needed me to be calm and confident in this crisis. He needed me with steady hands and a clear head.

Oxygen and nebulized steroids had no effect. Nebulized epinephrine helped to dilate his airway just enough, to make the next stage of his treatment safe. I sited an IV to give Kelly steroids that would reduce the swelling in his throat. Siting the IV was risky. Pain and fear might cause a spasm in his throat that would stop him from breathing all together.

Thankfully, kelly responded to treatment. I gave up a prayer of thanks for this mercy. No sooner had I stabilized Kelly than Dixie received a phone call.....

Minutes later, we were at the home of a terminally ill staff member. Exilia had been diagnosed with a metastatic brain tumour just five days before. Now, she was struggling to breath. She was in pain. She had lost control of her body functions. I found myself praying again for mercy.

The next morning, my prayers were answered, when Exilia lay down, rolled over, and stopped breathing.

Tears and groans and wailing filled our house. Angry, stunned, bewildered, difficult questions were thrown up. It was a painful loss, eased by the knowledge that God had answered our prayers. We knew that cancer was not the end of Exilia any more than croup had been he end of Kelly.

Two desperately ill people, one healed in the world, the other in eternity. One full of promise, an orphan with a hope and a future, a child who would soon be proposed to a family who desperately wanted a son. His whole life was ahead of him. The other had reached the end of her life, but she had left a legacy of dignity and endurance in the children she had raised. I gave thanks to my God. The one who had suffered in this world, the one who knew that we hurt. The God we could cling to - empathic, and eternally merciful, loving and good.

Kelly, recovering from his illness. He is now off of oxygen.

'Give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.' (Psalm 107:1)

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