Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Tamba is a special baby. He is three months old and from Sierre Leonne. He has two lovely parents and a few siblings.

He was born with an encephelocele,

which, according to Wikipedia is

"Encephalocele, sometimes known by the Latin name cranium bifidum, is a neural tube defect characterized by sac-like protrusions of the brain and the membranes that cover it through openings in the skull. These defects are caused by failure of the neural tube to close completely during fetal development.[1]There have been studies and evidence linking NTD's to folic acid deficiency. The severity of encephalocele varies, depending on the location. Currently, the only effective treatments are reparative surgeries following birth. The degree to which they can be corrected varies greatly on where and how big the encephalocele is"

His parents traveled for two months and spent all there money trying to find a way for him to receive corrective surgery. Finally, when they had almost completely given up hope, someone placed them in contact with Mercy Ships and arrangements were made for Tamba to come to the ship.

When he first arrived her was difficult to look at. He had a huge sack/tumor like protrusion from his head. It looked painful, uncomfortable, and dangerous.

He was in surgery for almost 8 hours. It took several surgeons and nurses, performing complex neurosurgery, but when he was wheeled into the recovery room his large protusion was replaced with a turban of bandage and gauze. A nice exchange.

I recovered and took care of him immediately after his surgery. He did amazingly well. We were able to bring his parents into the recovery room only fifteen minutes after he left the OR. He was breastfeeding after only spending a 1/2 out of the OR. It was really amazing.

His parents were almost in tears when they walked into the recovery room. They were so happy and thankful that there son had received surgery. It was a beautiful moment to be a part of.

Dr. Gary Parker, our chief surgeon (and an amazing, humble man), told me that in his 20 years of experience he has never seen a West African adult with an encephelocele. They die before they reach adulthood from infections or other complications.

Tamba is doing well. Tonight he was laughing, cooing, kicking, and grabbing my finger with his tiny black hand, like any 3 month old would. He is very popular and often has visitors (I decided that he knew what he was doing when he came to a ship filled with nurses that has a 10 to 1 female to male ratio..he knew he would receive plenty of female attention :) . His parents are absolutely lovely. They are the kind of people that make you appreciate being a nurse.

I'm so happy we could help sweet little Tamba.

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