Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"All He Had Was A Fever"

“All he had was a fever. He didn’t have diarrhea or vomiting. It started on Friday night at midnight. I took him to the hospital which was run by nuns. They gave me medicine which I gave him and brought him to this hospital today.”

These were the words this afternoon of another Haitian mom who lost her child today. She was shrieking these words out as she rocked back and forth on a wooden bench alone. She took the medication out of her purse which was a multivitamin, vitamin C, and acetaminophen and slammed them down on the bench. They hadn’t worked. She was missing the point as most poor Haitians do.

Early this morning, this mother had brought in her four year old boy in a coma. One pupil was bigger than the other. He was breathing quickly and was non responsive even to the insertion of the needle for the IV in the back of his left hand. He never woke up.

As his respirations slowed near 1 PM, I had her hold his jaw open to help “maintain” his airway. His respirations stopped and I turned him on his side. His heart continued at a furious pace but to no avail since his oxygen levels were dropping. I didn’t do CPR. His mother screamed and left the room. Three other sets of families, all nursing their babies with IV’s, barely seemed to notice the death of this innocent four year old boy in the tiny “rehydration room”.

His mother's sobbing could be heard in the hallway. Other moms in the clinic stared at her and peered at her around corners. Children stood with their fingers in their mouth and looked at this pathetic lady. The student nurses, in their freshly pressed uniforms, walked by barely looking at her. The veteran nurses said nothing to her. When the mother knelt on the floor crying, the janitor gently swept dust, debris, and plastic cups around her.

Her deceased son was wrapped in a white sheet and it was tied at both ends. The body was left in bed in the rehydration room surrounded by the three other babies in their cribs fighting for their own lives.

Mother continued to wail as she waited to receive the body of her son who "only had a fever". “Maman-mwe! O Bon Dieu. Pa bliye nou!” (Mother. Oh, good God. Don’t forget us!)

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