Updated: Jun 27
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 have a very sick 15-year-old boy, we’ll call him “S” out of privacy, 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, “S”, 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 “S”.
Now “S’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 “S” 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 “S”, 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 “S” 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 is providing funding for all of "S's" necessary supplies and care. Money that we don’t really have due to our already skeleton crew and shoestring budget in the wake of 2020. But we REFUSE to let anyone suffer because they have less than others. We absolutely refuse. So we are carrying on, trusting that God will provide.
We are closely monitoring “S’s” care and communicating with his doctors and mother constantly. The hospital is 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 “S’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 “S’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.
Now back to where “S” is today…
On Wednesday, June 24th 2020 “S’s” mom waited all day at the Red Cross without being able to get blood for him. Without blood, they can’t do “S”s dialysis. His blood volume is too low and the fear of bleeding is too great.
On Wednesday when he 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 can’t go to the bathroom to release the extra fluid on his own so they are having to watch him very closely.
The doctor said they are optimistic things will slowly begin to reverse and he will get better. But right now he is still very critical.
As of Thursday (June 25th) morning, “S’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 “S’s” doctor Thursday morning and he is more stable than when he arrived but still is very sick. The plan was to do dialysis. However after the pediatric nephrologist saw him Thursday and upon his labs showing slight improvement in kidney function decided to wait 24 hours to see if they continue to trend down. The hope is not to do dialysis.
Late Thursday (June 25th) evening we got amazing news that “S” had woken up and walking talking clearly!
“Mom just called… “S” 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 “S” was awake, alert, and talking. His labs are still high for liver and kidney function. The Nephrologist believes “S” won’t need dialysis as long as everything keeps slowly reversing, which is INCREDIBLE news!
Your prayers are working. “S” has turned a corner and is on the road to recovery.
Another miracle is happening in “S’s” mom. Her family has a history of involvement with magic/voodoo in Haiti and due to this she has been outcasted from the church. She wants to believe in Jesus but gets pulled back down from her family’s influences.
Throughout this trying time with “S”, our staff has been able to pray with and over her, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. We were able to reassure her that what is happening to “S” is NOT a punishment from God and she is not too far gone. We shared with her the hope we have in Jesus and his unconditional, unbreakable love. She has 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 “S’s” and his mom’s LIFE, physically and spiritually.
Thank you for your unwavering prayers and support for "S" and his mom! We are SO grateful to you, our myLIFEspeaks family, who always has our back covering us in prayer and helping us meet truly LIFE-saving needs.