For the past three days, we have had a ‘day visitor’ at the clinic. She’s brought in by her mother and spends the day in her arms, too weak to do much more than cry whenever someone draws near.
No one knows for sure how old she is. (My guess is she’s about a year and a half since her mother says she could walk up until recently and she has lots of teeth.) However, one thing is sure-- she’s sick and she’s been that way for some time.
Her clinical diagnosis is severe dehydration and malnutrition due to months of diarrhea and vomiting. The result is a condition called marasmus.
There are two main kinds of malnutrition: marasmus and kwashiorkor. The first is caused by inadequate intake of protein and calories and usually occurs in the first year of life. It results in severe wasting and growth retardation. The second is similar to the first but occurs often later on (after 18 months) and is complicated by severe swelling and water retention in the body.
Each morning her mother brings her in for a cocktail of IV fluids, antibiotics and Oral rehydration fluids. I’m not sure how long it will take for her to bounce back but I don’t think she will ever fully recover.
Some heart breaking facts on marasmus:
- Each year marasmus kills approximately 5 million children under five world wide. (According to the World Health Organization)
- The majority of children who suffer from marasmus never fully recover to weight and growth standards.