For those of you who have been to Haiti and/or are familiar with the lack of medical infrastructure, you will understand how difficult it is to get even basic care. This is unfortunately a common issue. One we have battled for years.
This time, we had a very sick 15-year-old boy, Lele, who is in unexpected kidney failure. After being rejected from one hospital, saying “there is nothing they can do,” we began the process of transferring him to another hospital in hopes they could help.
However, this transfer in itself was risky. It required our mLs medical staff, Lele, and his mother, to go through one of the most dangerous, barricaded and gang-ridden areas of Haiti. Furthermore, they’re riding in a small vehicle turned makeshift ambulance. No protection. No bullet-proof windows. Literally moving targets.
There was no guarantee they wouldn’t get stopped, robbed, and/or killed on the way to the hospital, let alone the odds that this next hospital could even help Lele.
Now Lele's LIFE wasn’t the only one at risk, everyone in that car’s LIFE was too.
So we did the only thing we knew to do, we prayed. Our staff being updated via our myLIFEspeaks group chat, prayed. You all, prayed. We prayed for protection of that vehicle and provision to get through the unpredictable.
By the Grace of God, we got through the barricades refusing to stop and got Lele safely to the hospital with help from our friends at HERO rescue ambulatory mission.
Simple things that we take for granted in the United States, like being admitted to a hospital or even getting safely TO the hospital is a gamble in Haiti.
A similar gamble, is getting reliable medical care once you get there.
Unfortunately for Lele, simple things like getting blood and dialysis, is a LIFE-threatening challenge.
And like every other time we deal with hospitals in Haiti, there are always more obstacles on the horizon.
At Haitian hospitals the family is responsible for buying and bringing the supplies needed for whatever procedure the doctor suggests. Because here, the needed supplies don’t just appear at the bedside in the hospital per doctors orders. There is no "treat first, pay later" mentality. Family members of the patient are forced to scramble to get the necessary supplies.
So once Lele finally got to the hospital and was seen by a doctor, his mom had no choice but to leave him there and scramble to get the supplies needed to help him. Unimaginable.
[ Clarification: myLIFEspeaks provided funding for all of Lele's necessary supplies and care. Money that we didn't really have due to our already skeleton crew and shoestring budget in the wake of 2020. But we REFUSED to let anyone suffer because they have less than others. We absolutely refused. So we carried on, trusting that God would provide.
We closely monitored Lele's care and communicated with his doctors and mother constantly. The hospital was too far away and too small for our staff to physically stay there with him. Haitian hospitals aren't like in the U.S. where there are hundreds of private rooms. In Haiti, they have around 10-15 beds with space for 1 person to be with the patient.]
Let’s pause briefly to paint a picture to better place ourselves in Lele's mother’s shoes at this point…
Imagine you are from a poor family in a very rural, small village.
Now, imagine being in the largest city in the country with a very sick child.
Imagine being given a piece of paper with instructions (that you may or may not be able to read) on what you must provide in order for proper care to be given.
Imagine being told to go find supplies for dialysis and go get blood for your sick child’s procedure. That's right, you need to have a cooler, ice, and a way to transport the blood from the central blood bank in the city, because the hospital doesn't have a blood bank.
Not only is your child very sick, you are also terrified.You don’t understand the diagnosis or what is causing him such suffering. You feel helpless. The only thing you know is you’re desperate to help.
Add in the stress of not knowing if your child will even be able to get the care he needs. It all depends on "if" the doctor will do it, shows up to do it, or if he/she has something else going on.
Would you "fight" for your child?
Remember the hierarchy and social system in place that keeps "village dwellers" on a much lower scale than "city residents." Remember, people make fun of you for your dirty clothes and your "funny" accent, reminding you that you must be poor and uneducated.
Would you fight for your child?
Surely almost everyone who reads this would immediately say, “YES!!!”
But we, in the United States, have been told we have the right and expectation to be treated fairly by hospitals. We have been told that our child deserves to be seen and cared for.
Now, imagine if you've never been given access to quality medical care. Imagine you have never been told you should or even could speak up for your child. Imagine not knowing you could advocate for them.
Hopefully this helps us understand Lele's mom’s situation better. In Haiti, it isn’t that simple. Nothing is guaranteed. Not even the effort of trying to save your child’s LIFE.
That being said, God-willingly, down the road we can build and staff our own hospital. But right now we have no choice but to create piece-milled, makeshift options with what we do have.
On Wednesday, June 24th 2020 Lele's mom waited all day at the Red Cross without being able to get blood for him. Without blood, they couldn't do Lele's dialysis. His blood volume was too low and the fear of bleeding too great.
Early on Wednesday when Lele arrived, his blood pressure and volume were so low that they had to give him a lot of fluids to keep him stable. He did start to urinate but it wasn’t enough. He couldn't go to the bathroom to release the extra fluid on his own so they had to watch him very closely.
The doctor said they were optimistic things would slowly begin to reverse and he would get better. But he was still very critical.
As of Thursday (June 25th) morning, Lele's mom was finally able to get blood and we were able to make it to the hospital with more money for the tubing and other dialysis supplies.
We spoke to Lele's doctor Thursday morning. Lele was more stable than when he arrived but was still very sick. The plan was to do dialysis. However after the pediatric nephrologist saw him Thursday and upon labs showing slight improvement in kidney function, they decided to wait 24 hours to see if they would continue to trend down. The hope was not to do dialysis.
Late Thursday (June 25th) evening we got amazing news that Lele had woken up and was talking clearly!
“Mom just called… Lele woke up and is talking clear and normal this evening..he sat up and said “Mom, I’m hungry” (in Creole of course 🤣). He’s cognitively thinking clear now and they had him sit in the bed, brush his teeth and let him try to eat/drink a little. He tired out quickly...but he’s alert and aware. The boost of clean blood probably helped but he’s clearing toxin buildup in his blood as well,” Rhonda, myLIFEspeaks’ public health liaison explained in our staff group chat.
Friday June 27th Lele was awake, alert, and talking. His labs were still high for liver and kidney function. The Nephrologist believed he wouldn't need dialysis as long as everything kept slowly reversing, which was INCREDIBLE news!
Your prayers worked. Lele had turned a corner and was on the road to recovery.
During all of this, another miracle was happening in Lele's mom. Her family has a history of involvement with magic/voodoo in Haiti and due to this she has long been outcasted from the church. She wanted to believe in Jesus but would get pulled back down from her family’s influences.
Throughout this trying time with Lele, our staff was able to pray with and over her, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. We were able to reassure her that what was happening to her son was NOT a punishment from God and she was not too far gone.
We shared with her the hope we have in Jesus and His unconditional, unbreakable love. She has since expressed her gratitude for our help in saving her son’s LIFE and for all of the prayers. We believe that through this tough situation God will continue to bring good, in both Lele's and his mom’s LIFE, physically and spiritually.
Thank you for your unwavering prayers and support for Lele and his mom! We are SO grateful for you, our myLIFEspeaks family, who always has our back covering us in prayer and helping us meet truly LIFE-saving needs.
Lele is recovering well and has been given a second chance at LIFE.