Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fighting for Health

During our most recent team we had three amazing and dedicated doctors who spent their days seeing all sorts of patients-young and old, sick and mostly healthy. I was impressed with the concern and genuine care that went into the evaluation of each patient. Dr. Elise was particularly concerned about a little boy Manuel and his brother Edgar. Both are extremely underweight and small for their age, but Manuel also had severe anemia. We went to the local Health Center in San Antonio to discuss our options with Dr. Alan (the director). He was not available and we met instead with the nutritionist. She suggested that the best way to get him immediate care would be with a recommendation from Dr. Alan and go to the National Hospital. We made plans for me to return the following week with the mother and Manuel.

The next week Manuel's other came to the clinic, but left Manuel at home. I explained to her our concerns and the plan to get Manuel admitted to the hospital for a blood transfusion ASAP. She was a bit unsure of the plan because she doesn't trust the National Hospital- a common opinion among people in the village because they are sometimes treated as inferior and it can be a very intimidating experience. I convinced her to go with me and talk with Dr. Alan - he has a way of convincing people. Dr. Alan explained the situation that  Manuel is in and the consequences further down the road. Finally the mother agreed to continue with the plan to admit Manuel for a blood transfusion.

The next day I met up with Manuel and his mom to bring them to the Health Center in Mazatenango. From there we were referred to the pediatric ER at the National Hospital. The doctor on duty sent us to outpatient care to be admitted. There we waited and waited to be seen. Suddenly the doctor we were waiting to see left! I asked one of the nurses what happened and he went into the room and looked for our paperwork. The doctor had written that we didn't show up! I was sitting right outside the door and never heard Manuel's name called. The nurse was a little upset with the doctor and brought us back to the ER and demanded the first doctor to admit us. So the ER nurses started doing the paperwork and getting Manuel in the hospital clothes (which he was very upset about, he did not want to stay at the hospital) After getting changed the next challenge was figuring out who would stay with him. His mother is breastfeeding a six month old baby brother, and his grandmother who was also with us had to go and sell in the market the next day. It was finally decided that Mom would stay overnight and another family member who is also breastfeeding her own child, would feed baby brother.
morning after
during blood transfusion

That afternoon Manuel received 1/2 liter of blood. At this hospital if you receive blood, then someone in your family or a friend has to go and donate blood to restock the blood bank. The nutritionist from San Antonio had volunteered and the next morning came and donated blood for Manuel.

It was a long exhausting day and I felt like I had to fight and speak up for Manuel because his mother didn't seem to fully understand his situation. Thanks to Dr. Elise who was the one to notice the problem and do something about it.

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