I am writing to let you all know what has been going on in the last few days here in Saboba.
This morning, Dr. Jean and I were rounding in the men’s and children’s ward and the first patient we came to was a 3 month old female. As I’ve talked about before, I love the kids here. I literally can’t get enough of them. I’m holding babies and playing with kids I can’t even communicate with because of the language barrier every chance I get. The fantastic thing about kids is that they’re fighters…their bodies are still growing and are usually strong. So even when children are sick they usually still have enough reserve to cry, fuss, or move around. Even though they don’t feel well, I feel good about these children because I know they’ll have a chance to get better fairly quickly with proper treatment. This baby was different. When I walked up to the bed I noticed the baby was lying flat on her back, her eyes were sunken and barely open, and she was trying to cry but was too weak to make more than a few noises. On closer inspection I noticed that her fontanel (”soft spot”) on the top of her head was severely sunken in, her belly was swollen, and every single rib, vertebrae, and bone in her body was showing. This child is SEVERELY malnourished and dehydrated. The mother of the baby is apparently sick and so the grandmother is “taking care” of the child. I use that term somewhat loosely because they are not adequately feeding the child, not giving the baby adequate amounts of fluids and the child is slowly dying from malnutrition.
My heart breaks every time I look at the baby. At 3 months the baby is only about 6 kilos (a little over 12 pounds) and frail. There is NOTHING else wrong with this baby other than the fact that she is underfed! Through a translator, I tried talking to the grandmother about the importance of feeding the baby the oral rehydration solution and nutrition supplements we were giving her. She had many questions, first saying that the baby’s belly was large and so she must be full (never mind the fact that if you put a bottle anywhere near this child she’ll gulp it down). I explained to her that this was not food in the belly, but “water around the belly” (best I could do with the language barrier) and the child was actually starving. She then said she couldn’t take care of the baby because the father wasn’t there.
Essentially what ended up happening is that every half an hour to one hour I have been going over to the ward, checking on the baby and instructing the nurses to check on the baby hourly. Oftentimes though the message does not get spread to the night staff or the day staff doesn’t take it as seriously as they should. I am hoping and praying that this baby makes it through the night. I am heartbroken every time I look at this child, knowing that with good nutrition and hydration the baby would be healthy like all of the other children!
I was talking to Dr. Young about my frustrations regarding the grandmother’s not wanting to feed the child and how I would do everything I could to make sure this child lived. She had a great quote…she said, “You can’t save every baby from this, but God sent you this child and you can do everything in your power to help this child.” Right now I am the best friend and hope that this baby has so I am determined to do everything necessary, even if it means taking the child hourly and feeding it myself!!) to try to nurse this baby back. Who knew that working here and trying to help others would change my own heart in the process?
Other than that, it has been fairly busy around here. Dr. Jean has had upwards of 8 cases per day in the OR along with rounding and other responsibilities. I have been doing the daily tasks in the wards after rounds so she can operate which has been busy.
On Saturday we traveled to Yendi with a few of the pastors and attended a funeral of another local pastor. He was so young, only 55, and died of a hypertensive stroke, leaving several children behind. It was interesting to see how the funerals are done here and I also got to witness some dancing afterwards!
I had a dress made today by a local seamstress. It is BEAUTIFUL and only cost about 17 Ghana Cedi (a little less than $15). I am having another one made that will be ready by Sunday and that was about the same price as well.
Other than that, this is my last full week in Saboba. Next Monday morning we are heading to Tamale. Dr. Jean has a conference that week. I am going to follow a friend of hers who is a Ghanaian doctor who runs 2 free clinics for the poor and also for lepers. I am excited to see what he does. I will fly out of Tamale (as long as the flight isn’t canceled…which happens a lot) on Thursday to Accra. I will stay overnight in Accra and on Friday fly out of Accra, headed for the states.
Well, no other new news to report. Please, please pray for this little baby that she will make it through the next few days and start gaining strength!