Monday, November 10, 2008

Ward IV/Pediatrics

Many of the kids admitted to Maseno Hospital have malaria and/or bacterial infections; most of them survive after we administer appropriate fluids, blood transfusions, anti-malarials and/or antibiotics. It's a miracle that we don't see more injured children here. The neighbors' kids play with real pangas (machetes) as four- and five-year-olds, chopping away at trees and stumps in our yard. They also use sticks as guns, just like kids do in the U.S., shrieking loud staccato "bam-bam-bam-bams" -- usually outside an open window as I futilely try to read. Fortunately, at least, they don't play with real guns.

We admitted a four-month-old baby yesterday, but he was quickly transferred to PGH, the public hospital in Kisumu, with extensive burns on his face and trunk. Jeremiah's five-year-old sister had been carrying him, to help her mama, but Rose wasn't strong enough. She accidentally dropped her brother into a vat of hot uggi (porridge) that was boiling over an open fire. It was a sadder-than-usual moment at Maseno Hospital. The baby was wailing in pain; his brown skin had been burned off, revealing pink and white second and third degree burns; the mama's tears were streaming down her face; and I could only imagine how upset (and splash-burned, too) Rose herself was.

Shortly before I arrived in Maseno, several children were admitted from an orphanage in Kakamega. Brought in by alert and caring guardians, the kids were treated here for salmonella and released. A major outbreak was averted. In the process, though, we heard a few of the kids' stories. One infant had been buried alive by her distraught mother; she was rescued by a neighbor and delivered to the orphanage for safety. Another was stunted in growth, due to lack of food and medical care as he grew up alone, without adult supervision. But it was heartwarming to learn that those kids have a safe place to live now, a place where they are cherished, as all children deserve.

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