Thursday, October 25, 2007


On Monday night I found a note on my door asking that I would work an evening shift, rather than a day shift, on Tuesday because there was a possibility of receiving an ICU baby. Normally any opportunity to not wake up before 8 am is an opportunity I readily take, but I had not worked a day shift in almost three weeks and was looking forward to it (sometimes working evenings and nights is a little sad because you don't get to see anyone. Everyone is working while your off and everyone is off while your working).

There was a three month baby boy on the ward who had a encehplolphele (that is probably grossly misspelled). From what I am told a some measure of brain tissue abnormally protruded from his skull during development leaving him with a large tumor-like mass on his face. Dr. Gary Parker, an American maxio-facial surgeon who has lived on the ship with his family for twenty years (amazing!!) , said he has never seen an adult West African with this condition. They generally die from encephalitis or some other complication before reaching adulthood.

The baby was in surgery for over ten hours. I helped bring him back from the OR and stayed with him in the recovery room (not many people here have pediatric experience and kids, understandably, make them nervous, so they like to have a pediatric nurse around). The baby had his head wrapped in a large turban like dressing and was screaming as soon as he was out of the OR. A lovely healthy screams that says, "my lungs are working just fine," and is always appreciated by medical teams.

After we had gotten him settled we brought his parents in to see there baby. It was a beautiful moment. The joy, excitement, and gratitude that oozed from their faces was completely beautiful. There baby had been given a chance at life.

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