Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's Tuesday in Haiti. Day two of the mission. It's night, though I have no idea what time - just that it's dark, the sky is clear with at least a million stars, and a little girl is probably going to die tonight.

The little baby girl and her mother came to the clinic today complaining of high fever for them both. The baby was only six days old, and Dr. Eugenio said that if they didn't get to the hospital right away the outcome could be fatal. Pastor T. had our group driver rush them to St. Marc where Linn, the proprietor of our hotel, knew someone who could get them admitted to the E.R. without too much hassle...so we thought. There was another girl with them; I don't know if she was a cousin or just a neighbor from the community, but she looked to be about four years old (later I'd find out she was really eight years old and just severely malnourished). This little girl had a terrible abscess that needed to be surgically drained. So they all went to the hospital, an hour away, and in about three hours after that, they had all been sent back home - untreated.

The little girl got turned away first. They wouldn't even let her in to be examined. They said the hospital was full of cholera patients and that if they let her in, she would surely get infected. So they didn't. At least they actually admitted the little baby and her mother. Tests were run, and after it was clear the mother had no money to pay, the doctors determined nothing was wrong with her or her baby and told them to leave. This woman had just had a baby six days ago, and they wouldn't even let them sit down to wait for a ride. So, again, I have no idea what time it is, but it's late and it's no time for a new mother to be out with her near death newborn. Dr. Eugenio says, in the States, the baby would have been admitted without question of payment. But, in Haiti, the baby might die. We'll see.

The little eight year old who looked like a four year-old came back to the clinic, but we had already packed up. Linn called for her to be brought to the rec room out by the entrance of the hotel property. Her mother brought her and waited a bit, but I don't think Dr. Eugenio knew they were outside. I guess mama felt she had waited long enough and decided to take her daughter on home - a walk of several miles. When Dr. Eugenio realized they had gone, she asked if they would come back. They did.

The little girl was placed in the rec room where a trio of gentlemen did not see fit to pause their game of dominoes long enough to give the little girl enough privacy to pull down her underwear and be treated (Black men the world over love them some dominoes). Dr. Eugenio asked them to give her five minutes alone, so they ditched the dominoes and went to the club across the street that had been our medical clinic just a few hours earlier.

"It will hurt. Really bad." Dr. Eugenio had the translator, Sami, tell the mother. "Put her on the table."

The "table" was a simple slab of plywood and a few men laid the petite down on it. The light in the rec room was a flickering fluorescent green, like the wall behind that was painted like bright lime Skittles. It's difficult to white balance my camera in fluorescent light, so I just let everything stay green and wondered why God would let this little girl be here in front of this Skittle green wall instead of back where I grew up in Texas eating Skittles, playing with toy race cars, and never worrying about not being able to get adequate health care. Dr. Eugenio did not have time to wonder such things. Instead, she pulled down the girl's little white cotton panties and stuck a giant needle in the abscess on her bottom and upper thigh. She could only use local anesthesia, even though in the U.S. such a procedure would have been done in an operating room under complete sedation. Three men held her down while Dr. Eugenio drained the abscess as best she could. The little girl didn't even flinch. She had already walked miles that night in excruciating pain just to be seen by Dr. Eugenio. She was too tired to cry.

We gave her a juice box and some crackers and waited thirty minutes to make sure she didn't have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. Ryan checked his watch and she was fine. It was time to send her home. Then about an hour after she'd left, the little baby girl and her mother showed up, and Dr. Eugenio went back to work. Maybe no little girls would die tonight after all.

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