from death to life. . .
On my call last weekend, I was talking to the clinical officer about a patient in Casualty (ER), and she said abruptly, “I have to go, they just brought in an unresponsive baby.”
Unresponsive baby trumped the breathing child in the ER, and I diverted my path quickly to the NICU where she was. The team was working smoothly, bagging with our bag valve mask to give oxygen, compressions to push blood through the body where the heart was failing, and a newborn baby – blue, lifeless, no breathing, no pulse.
We placed a needle in the bone and pushed sugar water when we discovered the sugar was dangerously low, and within seconds, a twitch of the arm, a gasp, a whimper.
Death replaced with fighting. . . lifeless with the hope to live.
That night, I worked with my team, teaching, sitting with mom, calling dad, placing a tube in the baby’s throat to improve the oxygen and fluids and antibiotics through the veins to help combat the problem with the lungs and infection that threatened to stop the heart again.
And we sat by the bedside and we prayed. We adjusted dials and knobs, and we stood in the gap, and talked to the Maker of this precious baby. Over the next week my colleagues and I worked at his bedside – adjusting small numbers, adding blood pressure medicines, medicines to paralyze him so his oxygen would come up – each bringing skill to the day and night to carry him to another sunrise. And Friday, after being in another part of the hospital for a day, I walked into the ICU to a beautiful sound – Fortune was whimpering, the tube removed, breathing beautifully on his own and looking straight at me.
I danced and laughed. The nurses laughed with me.
10 days after all statistics in Kenya say he should have died – life.
I left my dance with Fortune in the ICU to help round on the floor patients and a nurse ran in, wide eyed, and tapped my shoulder.
We need you in the treatment room. . .I ran, knowing the scene that would inspire such urgency in Kenya.
Another newborn, blue, lifeless, his veiled mom sitting beside him stoic as the nurses pushed air in with the bag valve mask, the hands pushed blood through the veins where the heart had failed. He had eaten just an hour earlier, and slept, and now . . .
We push adrenaline into the veins and checked – nothing. No pulse. No breath. We began again. I knew we didn’t have an ICU bed. I looked at her mother and went through the algorithms in my head.
The nurses walked with purpose – drew up medicines, searched for what was needed.
We gave more adrenaline. . . nothing again. And then sugar and calcium.
A twitch. A gasp. . .eyes fluttered. I laughed as one of our surgeons walked in the door..
“This must be a good sign,” he said, as the nurse and interns laughter joined mine.
The baby, limp seconds before looked at him, and he smiled.
“She will be okay,” the translator told the mother
Satia did better that day. Her oxygen came up. She warmed up in the incubator, her head covered with her hat knitted by hands from across the world. A new nurse cared for her with attention and skill, and the heart rate returned to normal and her strength returned.
Her mom murmured thanks in a language I did not know, but as our eyes met, I saw wonder and worry, joy and fear mingled as she sat beside her daughter. She had seen the transformation – that her daughter had passed from death to life that day.
I was telling David the stories yesterday, and he shook his head at me,”perhaps you should write those down.”
I have been back only weeks – I have mourned with families already, but I have also rejoiced. In the miracle of Fortune and Satia’s lives, of Brian and Blessing, and so many other kids that leave Kijabe loved and full of life.
But in the day to day, I hope I don’t take for granted the miracle that I get to be part of – that the lame walk, the blind see, and, still, He raises the dead.