Saturday 25th June: text message(s) from Neil
Today’s mobile clinic was extremely stressful and packed with adrenalin. This morning, in a dusty wattle and daub church in the bush, a lady rushed up to us with a deeply unconscious 3-year old girl in her arms. She was grand mal fitting with violent convulsions, biting her tongue.
We had only basic medicines and equipment so I put some co-artem in a syringe and gave her a huge rectal dose; plus some rectal calpol. At one point I thought her lungs were filling with fluid – pulmonary oedema. I tried to protect her airway with my gloved finger but her clenched teeth kept rhythmically chomping on my finger.
Next I gave her some intravenous diazepam which seemed to stop her fitting. We summoned a motorbike by mobile phone and Jen rushed to a pharmacy in town to get some ampoules of quinine. Thirty minutes later she returned with the same. I injected it into the child’s thigh and shortly afterwards she began to rouse and stir. Then we managed to get some oral fluids and glucose into her and she began to respond to pain.
Two hours later she was opening her eyes and six hours later she was sitting on my lap calling “papa” in her native lugissu, smiling and playing. The transformation was phenomenal. Jen said she would never have believed it if she had not witnessed it with her own eyes. A miracle. A life saved.
Jen was moved to floods of tears and despite working in the life and death business for some years I was still shaking two hours later. I am just so thankful that this child made a full and complete recovery.
This child with cerebral malaria would have faced certain death had we not been there. She was fortunate. But, in Uganda alone, one child in every five minutes of every hour is not.
Saturday 25th June: text message from Jenny
A day of many mixed and extreme emotions. It has really brought home the enormous need for the incredible work done by SHAPE.
Today I witnessed the most beautiful little girl dying right before my eyes, the result of malaria, such an easily preventable yet indescribably horrific infection. I have never felt so utterly powerless, where at that moment in time the very best I could do was hope.
Fortunately for this child we were in the right place at the right time and Neil’s excellent medical skills, care and quick thinking aided a small miracle and saved this child’s life. But the fear we all shared while we waited to see whether we had acted soon enough, fast enough, while we watched such harrowing suffering now haunts me.
Despite the overwhelming happiness I feel that this beautiful child’s life was saved, and her amazing recovery which I watched unfold, it cannot mask the simple fact that in Uganda alone 3 in 20 children die every day in exactly this way from malaria. That’s one beautiful innocent life gone every 5 minutes and it is not a peaceful death. It is a cruel painful one.
I will treasure the memory of this child only a few hours after treatment, as for me she represents every reason why projects like this one are so important and the hope that they bring. For tonight however I sit here in silent tears for she was one of the lucky ones. Much love Xx