Friday, October 23, 2009

The baby with no name

In Tuesday morning I was out with my friend Suey (who is beautiful and lovely), dropping off the Burkitts patients to receive a dose of chemotherapy at a local hospital. Before leaving, one of the nurses approached Suey, asking is we'd stop by the adjacent mother/baby ward to see a newborn with a suspected case of NOMA. NOMA is a flesh-eating infection of the face found in the underdeveloped world where children are subject to poor sanitation and malnutrition. 126,000 children die each year from NOMA with most cases occurring sub-Saharan countries.

We were taken into the building and lead to the surgical suite. Before going in, we were given a cloth gown to wear and a hat for infection control purposes. We were, however, still wearing our shoes and clothes from the ship (any medical personal will see the humor in those two sentences. The gown and hat were definitely not making us fit for a "sterile" environment). We literally walked three feet and there was the baby. A tiny little girl of only 12 days. She was receiving blood through and IV that was placed in her newly cut umbilical chord. It was obvious she was sick; really sick. Her hands and feet were ashen and cold. She was using her entire chest to breath, accompanied by flaring nostrils (both signs of respiratory distress in kids). Her upper lip was grossly swollen and the skin was black and necrotic.

Suey asked the nurse a few questions, looked at the baby's lab work, and took a photo promising to show it to a surgeon. However, as they discussed her condition, it became clear it was very unlikely we'd be able to do anything. The Africa Mercy is a surgical center and not a medical facility. Honestly, even if we had all the resources of modern hospital, I don't think it would have helped this baby. Jesus was calling her home.

Before we left, we gathered around the small crib and Suey prayed for the baby.
"What is her name," Suey asked the nurse. When he didn't respond Suey changed her question. "Does she have a name?"
"No, she doesn't have a name."

While Suey prayed she said,"Lord, You know this child's name." It was a beautiful and moving prayer. And it was true.

It doesn't make any sense to human mind. Why would a baby be brought into the world to spend 12 or 13 days suffering alone, only to return to her Maker? But He does know her name. He knows the hairs on her head. He has a plan for her little life. The world may forget her very quickly, but He has never forgotten or forsaken one of His children.

That thought really comforted me.

Isaiah 43:1

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

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