Monday, October 16, 2006

Alternative Medicine in Haiti

Alternative Medicine in Haiti

I saw this young lady in the clinic today. She is 23 years old and lives a few miles from the clinic but it takes her at least 30 minutes to get there down the dirt road leading to the clinic with huge holes, mud, and water.

She was very weak when she arrived and had to be pulled into the clinic. She was also very short of breath. Her blood pressure was 104/0. Her blood was drawn at our lab next door which revealed a hemoglobin of 3. She should have a hemoglobin of 14. She has very little blood cells circulating to carry oxygen to her cells. Her organs are starving for oxygen.

There are many causes of anemia in Haiti with iron deficiency at the top of the list. I don’t know if she has sickle cell anemia. She could have both.

She has no money to go to a public hospital and has no family member to take care of her in the hospital. So hospitalization in Haiti is not an option. She desperately needs a blood transfusion and we need to find the reason for her severe anemia. So I gave her a shot of intramuscular iron and some iron supplements to take orally. We also gave her a high protein drink and some corn curls as she sat in a chair with a smile on her face and devoured them.

I told her to come back to the clinic tomorrow for more injectable iron which is sometimes dangerous to give because of allergic reactions. But that is the best alternative for her now to quickly restore her iron. Haiti has given her no more “alternatives” than this. She smiled and said she would come back, but I realize now it is a national holiday. I had forgotten. I think she had too. Hopefully, she will return in two days.

I practice “alternative medicine” in Haiti and am very embarrassed.

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