Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Miniature Miracles

 Working in a hospital with limited resources brings with it many challenges. But is also brings with it a real sense of amazement when, despite the lack of technology and the few basic drugs available, lives that look to be in serious danger miraculously are turned around. Over the past 4 days I have seen 2 such events.

Last Friday saw a tiny baby girl born 2 months premature 2 weeks ago in her village. She is her parents first and they are clearly besotted by her. Being so tiny though, feeding her was difficult and despite her parents’ best efforts she came to us very dehydrated and having difficulty breathing. She weighed just 1.200kgs. Her outlook did not look good and what little hope there was quickly faded when she stopped breathing. Quickly starting resuscitation, initially by basic mouth to mouth and then with a bag and mask, she started to breathe again and her slow heart rate picked up.

From that moment on, my day, and then much of the weekend, passed in a blur of giving fluids, antibiotics, monitoring her heart rate, oxygen levels and wrapping her up in yet more blankets, hats, jumpers and booties to ward off the chilly 25c nights! Unlike the many complex respiratory support systems found in UK hospitals, here we have simple oxygen concentrator which we used to help this little baby. The smallest mask we had completely covered her face!

By Sunday afternoon the little listless rag-doll that had been bought in 2 days previously was wriggling around, no longer needing oxygen and was able to take a few drops of milk by a syringe. Incredible! By Monday she was drinking all of her required milk so we could stop giving her fluids every 2 hours by the drip in her hand. Yesterday, as I sat with her parents helping them with feeding their precious little girl they told me they had given her the name Rebecca. What a privilege!

Me with Mum and Baby Rebecca

The second miniature miracle happened Sunday evening. A lady who had previously already lost 2 babies at birth came into the hospital in labour needing an emergency caesarean. As quickly as we tried to start the operation we thought we may already be too late. Her baby was born not breathing with a very weak pulse. I was meant to be giving the anaesthetic at the time so having given all the required medicine I ran over and helped a visiting American Doctor to resuscitate the baby while Dr Andrea continued to operate on the lady and Dr Mark was called to assist Andrea.  

The baby seemed to be making no attempt to breathe but we just kept on going. Finally her heart rate picked up and then there was some definite, if very feeble, breathes. In retrospect we realised that the whole resuscitation was only 20 minutes long, but at the time it felt an eternity as we watched this baby willing for her to start breathing on her own, knowing that if she didn't there was nothing more we could do to help her.
A proud new Mum with her miracle baby

Every so often Andrea would call me over to give some more anaesthetic drug to the lady and then I’d run back over to the baby again to be the second pair of hands resuscitating her.

And then we heard the most amazing noise ever; a surprisingly strong cry!!!!! Our whoops of joy and delight joined the baby’s cries to make the operating room a spontaneous party of celebration!

Although these two little babies are miniature miracles, the miracles were not miniature!

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