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, 24 July 2011

Two Special Babies

Late on Thursday afternoon, upstairs in GLA's NICU, I performed a visual exam, of baby Sonia, who had arrived home from Miami an hour or so before.

She had obviously grown, and filled out. She must have spent a fair bit of time enjoying the Florida sunshine, I thought to myself - her colour had deepened. I took in her crown of silky curls, glowing skin and a pretty pink, checked dress. For me, these were signs that she had been well cared for and loved during her three months in the USA.

Undressing my girl, my eyes fell on neat scar, that ran up her chest, stopping just short of her collarbone, and a bony protrusion over her right lung. Soon, I would learn that Sonia's surgeon had corrected six defects affecting her heart and its vessels. I traced that scar with my finger. I needed to do that. I'm not quite sure why.

Sonia's journey to health has not been an easy one. She developed osteomyelitis (an infection in her lower leg before she left Haiti and that required an extensive course of antibiotics. She developed a further infection in her PICC (IV) line together with a blood clot. Then, following surgery her incision line also became infected. She has returned to God 's Littlest Littlest Angels singicantly stronger than she left us. Developmentally, she continues to make impressive progress.

If anyone here needed a reminder that Sonia would continue to require a lot of care, that reminder came in the form of another angel.

Melouse is 4 months old and she weighs 6lb 5oz. I caught my first glimpse of this tiny elfin girl shortly before 8am on Thursday morning. The lady who was holding her, Melouse's mother was crying. I remember that Melouse looked pale, but very alert. When she was brought up to me in the NICU shortly before mid-day, it was immediately obvious that like Sonia, Melous had Down's Syndrome.

Melouse has a skin infection, fevers and swollen glands. Many Down's syndrome babies have weak immune systems. She is unable to drink from an ordinary nipple because like Many Downs's syndrome babies, she has low muscle tone. There are signs that her thyroid gland may be under active. These are the health challenges that are immediately obvious to us. We don't know yet whether, like Sonia, she Melouse has a heart condition and breathing problems. Whether she will have issues with her digestive system, vision and hearing. Whether she will be prone to seizures, or whether she will develop a form of leukaemia that is fairly common in babies children with Down's syndrome.

We have two beautiful and precious girl upstairs in our NICU. Sonia and Melouse. Special because they are unique, but also because they are and will probably always be high needs.

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