By Peter Stockton, MD
It was a typical call night. Rainy. Muggy. At 7:00 p.m., I got called into the hospital right in the middle of putting the girls to bed. I had been on call every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for a month straight and it was getting old. I rode my motorcycle down the hill thinking, Great. Some over-concerned mother is bringing her two-month-old because he is acting strange. How strange can a two-month-old act? All they know how to do is eat and poop.
I arrived at the hospital and began checking out the baby boy, who was very small for his age, but that was all I could find. He had no fever, no GI problems, nothing that I could find that was wrong. His mother said that he had been in a hospital in San Pedro Sula for the last month, that he was born there and at first had been unable to breathe on his own. They had discharged him two days before.
Now she was concerned because he had not eaten well during his last feeding two hours earlier. I asked her to feed him and he seemed to feed without difficulty. But since the mother was very concerned, I thought it would be best to admit him for the night and do labs in the morning to make sure he was okay. I wrote the admission orders and got them tucked in.
I drove my motorcycle back up the hill, but less than half an hour later, I was called back to the hospital. The baby had stopped breathing.
Six doctors helped me figure out the diagnosis. After talking more with the mother, we concluded that the baby was having apnea and bradycardia of prematurity (breathing that stops long enough for the heart rate to drop). We breathed for the baby for several hours and he seemed to recover. I had never seen or dealt with this before. In the U.S., babies who are born this way are not allowed to leave the hospital until they have a week free from apnea and even then, they are sent home on an apnea monitor.
I was never so happy to see Dr. Judy, our pediatrician (also a MedSend grant recipient), as I was that night. She is very familiar with this problem and the treatment. She got to work building a bubble CPAP machine from oxygen tubing and physics. In no time at all, this baby was doing better.
We had multiple setbacks, including a collapsed lung lobe and likely pneumonia, but Dr. Judy helped me limp this baby back to health. Later, when she brought him to my room, I didn’t recognize the little guy. He was huge, with a full head of hair and so active that I was astounded that this was the same itty-bitty boy that was so tiny his brain hadn’t learned to breathe yet.
I felt greatly humbled that God had saved this kid. I was embarrassed that I had no idea what was going on with this baby and that I almost sent him home to his sure death. I was so thankful that God had placed such great people around me and for the timing of this little boy’s respiratory arrest.
I have been humbled multiple times since then by how powerful God is. He controls time. He controls the timing of everything. His timing is perfect. This precious baby had been born at 27 weeks’ gestation. He was discharged from the hospital and lived at home for a day before he came to our hospital and stopped breathing. He was admitted because his mom knew something was wrong. Dr. Isaac is here and helped me make the diagnosis. Dr. Judy is here and saved his little life. The hospital is here because Dr. Jeff and his family moved here to build it. I am here because of your support. All of this is God’s timing, His perfect logistics.
He has you where you are in the position you are and with the influence and abilities you have because you are perfect for the role He wants you to play. He is in control of time, which means He has been able to focus entirely on you since the second you were knit together in the womb (Psalm 139:13). He won’t ever stop and He will never leave you, because He has the time to do it. Live today knowing that the most powerful Being ever has made time for you, every second you exist.
– Peter Stockton, MD, is a MedSend emergency medicine physician serving in Honduras. In the recent photos above, he is with the baby boy he wrote about in the post, who was hospitalized for 28 days the first time and again later, when he got TB.
“He just finished treatment and is doing awesome!” Dr. Stockton exclaims.
“I see patients almost every day and get to share wonderful and horrible times with them and their families,” he says. “I am honored that they allow me into their lives and I use every second to try and show them as much Jesus as I can. I love praying with my patients because they know that I care about them enough to join with them in their petition of our Father. I have seen incredible miracles and glimpses of what God is doing here in Honduras and it humbles me. This is a place where God is truly at work.”
Dr. Stockton says his family would not be Honduras without MedSend. “The financial assistance that MedSend gives us by taking care of our loans has allowed us to move here and begin relationships with the people of Honduras and has given us the privilege of sharing Jesus with them.”