Hope

I’m going to have to relinquish the nickname “White Lightning”. These mosquitoes are too quick for my speedy hands!

The hospital I’m at is a very amazing place, filled with resources you probably wouldn’t expect in rural Africa. There are separate buildings for each ward: male, female, peds 1&2, and maternity. The wards consist of long rooms (40ft x 20ft) filled with beds side by side. Each ward has around 30-40 beds and also has a few rooms for patients who need to be isolated. There is also a general out-patient clinic, HIV clinic, optometry clinic, pharmacy, laboratory, two operating rooms, labor and delivery room, and newborn nursery. Power outages are frequent in Africa (today it will be out from 8am-6pm) but the hospital has generators and is able to persist in providing care. There is also an adjacent nursing school which instructs over 200 students. We have four family medicine docs, a pediatrician, and two surgeons, all from the US, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of the staff nurses were trained at the adjacent nursing school and stay after graduation for full-time work.

Malnutrition is a common condition among our pediatric patients. We have around 15-20 in the Peds 2 ward. Seeing the toll malnutrition takes on these kids breaks my heart. Around 20% of the children in Zambia are HIV positive, but the percentage of HIV positive pediatric patients at the hospital is significantly higher. One of the first patients I saw was a child admitted for malnutrition who was also HIV positive. Both of these diseases are difficult enough to manage on their own but their combination can be almost impossible to overcome. This proved to be the case in this 18 month-old girl. Yesterday she developed pneumonia and today she passed away. It seems unfair that she would be put in this situation, contracting HIV from her mother and being born in a place where obtaining adequate nutrition is difficult. When we realized her outcome was not going to be favorable, I could only think of two things. One, a Chris Rice song called Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) and two, the verse where Jesus says, “Let the little children come unto me.” Thank goodness life in Christ provides hope.

Link to Untitled Hymn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_hV8L65Rqo

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for the updates, J. We’re grateful to hear how you’re doing and we’ll keep praying for you as always.

  2. Justin–that is a very heart-wrenching story of your little patient. It seems that by the time they get to the hospital, there is a limited amount of interventions when malnutrition is the case. I love the song by Chris Rice, I would say it is my favorite of all. And, yes, our only hope is in our Lord Jesus for today and for eternity. I trust that He is helping you each day that you experience such difficult situations, and see His hand at work as well! Love you. Mom


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