Sunday, 27 March 2011
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
'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.
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
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
Sunday, 13 March 2011
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.
Thursday, 3 March 2011
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.