Friday, September 22, 2006
Several mornings ago in clinic, a little girl about four and one half feet tall appeared in front of my desk holding a baby on her hip. I glanced down at one of the dossiers in front of me and asked the girl if the baby’s name was Eugene. She said yes. I asked her where the baby’s mother was and she replied that she is the baby’s mom. Believing that she had not understood my heavily accented Haitian Creole, I asked her again where the mother was. She assured me that she is the mother. I could hardly believe my eyes.
The mother, whose name is Mikerlange, had a beautiful smile, was very polite and not demanding. She is 16 years old. She just wanted her baby to get better. She answered questions regarding two year old Eugene as a seasoned mother would do.
Eugene has had a fever, cough, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. She stated that she and the baby live with her grandmother. Her father is dead and her mother is a domestic and lives in the house that she cleans. Mikerlange rarely sees her mom.
Mikerlange said that she does eat when her grandmother can find them some food. Like most poor Haitians, they have no food in the house. When she offers Eugene food---rice and beans--- he refuses and takes only sips of water. She cannot remember the last time he ate anything.
Eugene’s exam revealed that he weighed 12 pounds and had a fever of 102.5F. He was very irritable and did not want to be examined. He swung at me with his tiny hand.
A chest x-ray revealed pneumonia near the heart margin on the right side.
Eugene and his mom are really not unique in the clinic or in Haiti, except that his mother is quite young. She has no social systems supporting her and her baby in Haiti. She has nothing except her grandmother. Eugene is dying from lack of food and pneumonia. He had no where to go except to his grave. He did not meet the criteria for admission in many Haitian hospitals, so I had one choice…and so did Eugene---I called Chris Nungester.
Chris and Hal Nungester are use to bailing babies out of trouble as well as helping troubled doctors when they have no where to send sick and dying children.
Chris drove to the clinic, picked up Eugene and Mickerlange, and drove them to the orphanage. We worked out a medical plan for Eugene.
Of course, Mikerlange loves the orphanage. She is able to give Eugene the basic care he needs as she watches him receive needed antibiotics and rehydration fluid. Mikerlange will actually chew up food and give it to Eugene to swallow because he is too weak to chew.
Eugene is making slow steady progress over the last several days. Will he survive? Only God knows. But H.I.S. Home for Children and his little mom are giving Eugene the chance that he deserves.