Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Father's/Family's Grief

James, 34, was admitted to the hospital a few days ago, complaining of chills and lethargy. Actually, he was carried in by his three brothers; their anxious father followed close behind. They told us that James was recently diagnosed as HIV-positive and went on a drinking spree. When he suffered seizures two days later in our hospital, we thought the seizures might be alcohol-induced. He was negative for both malaria and cryptococcal meningitis.

His intermittent seizures (of 15 minutes' duration) continued, and James began vomiting blood. His hemoglobin dropped dramatically, so we typed his blood in preparation for a transfusion. Dr. Hardison performed an endoscopy and discovered that James has a pyloric obstruction. As a result, he cannot absorb oral medications. We have no IV anti-convulsants.

Neither do we have any available blood, so we asked his brothers if they might be willing to donate two units for James before we transfer him to an ICU/surgical unit in Kisumu. They willingly agreed and were typed by our lab. In the process, however, we learned more sad news.

One brother had a different blood type, and the other two were unable to donate: Kennedy was HIV-positive himself, and Francis had hepatitis B. We needed to inform them. They, in turn, needed to inform their father. In his private grief, Baba James initially bolted, then returned to his son's bedside. There the family watches and waits together. Free counseling and HIV medications are available, but the stigma of AIDS is great. Many people still don't go for help until the disease has progressed and they are symptomatic.

Please pray for us all.

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