Monday, November 7, 2011

2.1 equals 1.1

Yesterday a young girl came for help. Reported to be early in her third trimester, she complained of malaria symptoms. Fever. Chills. Pain.

Margaret saw her and called Dr. Tom to help evaluate. I’m told she was severely pale so they asked our new lab technician, Caroline, to check her hemoglobin.

She had a hb reading of 2.1 g/dl.
    --Yes. You read that right. A hemoglobin of 2.1

(For those who don’t know, that reading is crazy low! Normal hb in pregnancy is 11-12 g/dl if you are moderately healthy.)

She needed a blood transfusion.

Remarkably, her baby was still alive. I was told Margaret and Tom were preparing to refer her to Wau for a transfusion while starting aggressive treatment of the cause --malaria.

Since church was starting soon, I decided to visit her after church. But once service ended, Margaret approached me saying she’d delivered.

What? I thought she wasn’t having contractions. When did she deliver?

Apparently in an effort to save her life, her body expelled the child spontaneously. He was born alive but severely preterm weighing just 1.1 kg (or 2.4 lbs).

Once I heard the news I went to check on him. He was breathing well but starting to show signs of distress. His mother looked sad and exhausted.

She explained that all her family was far away or in prison. There was no one left to help her get to Wau for the blood she needs.


With time Dennis was able to start an IV on this precious munchkin and we gave formula through an NG tube. He looked like he wanted to live.

After doing a Ballard’s score (a rating to help determine the gestational age of a newborn), we guess him to be around 31-32 weeks gestation. This explains his ability to breath well but not his size. I believe him to be small for gestational age (SGA) as well. Long term anemia will do that in a pregnancy.

Please pray for them. Her name is Ayen. She is family-less, severely anemic, with a tiny preterm baby. Please pray for God to keep them both healthy and alive. Thanks.