Hope For Healing - Update
Last time I was in Burundi when I was walking through the clinic, Dr. Melino pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to see a particularly troubling patient. When we got to the exam room door he stopped.
“Maybe you don’t want to see, actually,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“This is a really awful case. It’s hard to look at.”
I said it was ok, but he was right―it was hard to see.
A distraught mother had brought in her month-old daughter, Iranenereza. Shockingly, she had just been discharged from another area clinic. (We first blogged about the case here.) But her mother could see that, despite the topical cream they had given her, her daughter’s condition was deteriorating quickly. The baby girl had an open wound across her chest and under her arm. Infected and oozing puss, her temperature had spiked.
With amazing care, one of our talented nurses placed an IV while another prepared an exam table to clean the wound. Melino stood, overseeing the care, shaking his head.
Tenderly, they rinsed Iranenereza's chest, peeling away the dead flesh, then rinsing again. They dressed the wound with antibiotic ointment, started the IV with additional antibiotics and began trying to lower her temperature.
“Will she live?” I asked Melino.
He shook his head again. “I don’t know. It’s really bad.”
“Have you told her mother that yet?”
“No. I’m still thinking about how to tell her.”
“If she lives, will she ever have skin to cover the wound?”
“Yes, she might since she’s so young. It would grow back.”
I followed this case after returning to New York, asking Melino periodically if she was still alive.
“Still alive so far,” he would tell me.
Last week we discharged her after about two months of care. Still healing and in need of ongoing treatment, but alive, smiling and growing.
It’s sometimes hard to capture the value of our work. We can cite statistics about treatment, education or even, to some degree, lives saved. But I think it’s before and after pictures like these of Iranenereza that say the most. This is what our impact looks like.
-David Cohen, Executive Director