Monday, July 12, 2010
Monday morning – bracing myself for a busy day. Many people wait until Monday to bring their sick family members even though they would qualify as an emergency case on Sunday. That was the case for 3-year-old Yom.
She lay limp and unresponsive in her mother’s arms as we rushed them to a consultation room. She felt hot and we immediately started with the usual treatment for malaria. IV fluids, anti-malaria meds, and Tylenol to bring down the fever. It was only after initiating this first round of treatment that I put my hand on her chest to feel her labored breathing. Something wasn’t right.
I could feel fluid in her lungs just by placing my hand on her side. Not a good sign. After then listening to her lungs, we started her on IV antibiotics to treat for pneumonia.
I must say, in the States we would have treated this girl very differently if she’d have come into an emergency room. She would have been intibated immediately and deep suction would have been performed (translation: tube placed in her trachea to help her breath and mucus suctioned from her airways) then moved to an intensive care unit.
But we are not in the States. We are in South Sudan. Nearest hospital – 3.5 hours away. The family wanted to drive her there, but we all knew she would not live.
In the meantime, it’s getting harder and harder for Yom to breath. Mucus and saliva are filling her mouth with each breath. How badly I wished at that moment that I could properly suction her. The best thing I could think of was a bulb syringe (the kind used to suction the mouth and nose of newborns). We tried it over and over, but the job wasn’t getting done.
Despite our best efforts, Yom went to be with Jesus just minutes after we laid hands on her and prayed for her. We had done all we could and even tried to resuscitate her.