Walking alongside our patients
*MedSend Grant Recipients Drs. Jared and Jenny Brockington, now serving in Kenya, share how healthcare changes lives and communities.
Charity was born to a first-time mom with HIV. Normally, that one statement is enough to make any healthcare provider pause with concern. In Africa, it is all too common, but amazing efforts over the last 2 decades have resulted in HIV exposed infants growing up healthy and without the devastating disease. Amazingly, being born to a mom with HIV is not her greatest health challenge.
Charity was born at a dependable local hospital and like most babies, she went home with mom between 24 and 48 hours of life. After one day at home, Charity’s mom became concerned because she threw up nearly everything she ate. Feeding after feeding, the milk just sat in Charity’s mouth. On her 5th day of life, Charity’s family brought her to PCEA Chogoria Hospital Casualty Department (emergency department) for evaluation.
Initially, the medical team hoped she was just having normal breast feeding problems, such as her mom was not making enough milk or maybe Charity was not making a strong latch with her mouth. However, the medical intern on pediatrics knew that the problem might be more than just this so she was admitted as a patient to the Shinda (Pediatrics) Ward.
Quickly after coming to the Shinda Ward, it was clear her problem was not routine, and she was not swallowing any breast milk. With every feed she would cough and milk would be pushed out her nose and mouth.
An X-ray showed that her esophagus did not have a normal connection to her stomach. She was born with a tracheoesophageal fistula, which is where there is a connection between the esophagus and trachea.
Her situation became even more dangerous as she developed pneumonia from all the milk that was forced into her upper airway. We did all that was possible at PCEA Chogoria Hospital; she was given antibiotics and oxygen for her aspiration pneumonia, intravenous fluid for dehydration, and we stopped all feeding. We knew that without surgical intervention she was going to die.
We do not have a pediatric surgeon at our hospital. It is a common problem for Kenya and most of Africa. Many infants will die every day because there is just no one with the training to operate on these little ones. Fortunately, there is a pediatric surgeon at AIC Kijabe Hospital, a Christian mission hospital which is about 6 hours to the southwest of our hospital. Our two facilities have a close professional, academic and spiritual relationship, and after a simple doctor to doctor phone call, the process for transfer was started.
By God’s grace, the family’s national insurance coverage was activated that morning, which covered almost the entire hospital bill which was a huge concern for the family. The next challenge would be transportation of this small newborn on oxygen and IV fluids to Kijabe Hospital, over 6 hours away.
The cost of ambulance transport is significant, over a month’s wages for the average family, and most cannot afford the service at all. The family was able to contribute to the total ambulance cost, but the rest was paid for by the Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF). This wonderful patient aid program was literally lifesaving. With the financial assistance of the MBF, she was brought halfway across the country of Kenya to receive a lifesaving operation by a skilled pediatric surgeon. Her family did not have to make the choice of paying for the ambulance or paying for food next week.
Charity’s transportation from Chogoria to Kijabe was blessedly uneventful. Her surgery was very successful, and she was able to go home with her mom after about 1 week. We are praying that she will do well. If operating early, it is common for babies with this problem to do well after the surgery, but they still require close outpatient monitoring of possible complications. Since she lives close to our hospital, we look forward to follow up with her, and continuing to show this family the love of Christ through holistic medical care.
We are grateful for the team we have here at Chogoria Hospital as well as the team of Christian mission hospitals and organizations all over Kenya. Every day, we are humbled by the difficult situations that our patients and their families face. We are thankful for God’s grace and mercy and for the opportunity to walk alongside of our patients and their families. As a team, we pray that we will continue to show the love of Christ and His healing power throughout Chogoria and the rest of Kenya.
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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