Monday, November 06, 2006
This shy little girl is eight years old. She was living at a home for sick, dying, and homeless adults in Port-au-Prince. Her mother has no money and could not care for her because she was sick all of the time with a constant cough and short of breath. She had also lost a lot of weight.
Her exam revealed a “wash machine” type of murmur that was very loud high on her chest. She had wet sounds in her lung as well and appeared very ill.
An echocardiogram had already been ordered by another physician which showed this little girl had a connection between her aorta and her lungs (patent ductus arteriosus) which allowed too much blood to flow through her lungs with each heart beat. This caused her heart to go into failure because the heart was receiving too much blood from the lungs.
Her chest x-ray showed pneumonia which is not uncommon in children that have too much blood shunted to their lung fields. However her pneumonia is tuberculosis.
Thanks to an American missionary who works in Haiti much of the year, a hospital in the United States accepted this girl to close the abnormal connection between her aorta and lungs. We started tuberculosis treatment in Haiti two months ago and continued her on her heart failure medication. She has gained weight and feels much better.
Haiti, heart failure, and tuberculosis are three strikes against her. However, thanks to the intervention of multiple people, she has a good chance now at long term survival.