Friday, March 29, 2013


Terry and I first met 32 year old Sam about a year and one half ago when he was admitted to the hospital with HIV, TB and Cryptococcal Meningitis.  Initially he was very wasted and mentally obtunded.  As he slowly recovered we met the real Sam, a pleasant man with with a huge smile.  He spent nearly 2 months in the hospital so we got to know Sam and his mother quite well.  Our donors paid his hospital bills and he eventually made it home.  Unfortunately Sam and his family could not afford Fluconazole, a medication to prevent return of his Cryptococcal Meningitis.  Sam did well for a few months then his condition deteriorated.  He was too weak to come in for his HIV medications so one of the counselors would deliver his medications to him and update us on his progress.

Last October Sam’s mother could no longer care for him and brought him back to the hospital.  He had been lying in bed so long that he had the worst bed sores that I have ever seen.  Both hip bones were exposed with sores involving more than 1/2 of each buttocks.  Sam was barely conscious and was obviously septic from his wounds.  I seriously thought about not treating his infection thinking there was no possible way Sam could recover.  As I pondered what to do Sam whispered, “help me Doctor”.  Sam made the decision for me and we started antibiotics and daily cleansing of his wounds.  Dr Laura Dooley had just brought us a large supply of Fluconazole so we started Sam back on it.  Slowly Sam showed improvement and his smile returned.

Around Christmas Terry and I realized Sam was just not going to give up.  We also realized his
wounds were never going to heal on his primarily carbohydrate diet.  We began supplying Sam with sardines, peanuts and eggs to increase his protein intake.  I also tried to see Sam during his dressing changes at least once a week and cauterize his wounds with silver nitrate.  Gradually Sam started gaining some weight and his wounds became smaller.  With determination Sam got out of bed and began walking with the aid of a walker.  His mobility slowly increased and Terry and I had to walk through out the Hospital to find Sam for his protein deliveries.  Sam’s smile was never bigger than yesterday when he was finally discharged.  He will be staying near the hospital so he can continue with dressing changes until the last of his wounds are completely healed.  Terry and I feel blessed to be a witness to one man’s determination and a real miracle!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


6 months ago we first met 25 year old Elizabeth.  She was being treated for recurrent Tuberculosis.  Unfortunately she developed Hepatitis from INH, one of the five medications in her treatment regimen.  We withheld her medication for a week and then restarted the medication at a low dose and then gradually increased the dose.  At home we would have come up with a replacement drug for the INH but here there are no alternative drugs.  Elizabeth was doing well and sputum tests in January showed no sign of TB.  Last week Elizabeth returned to OPD very sick.  She was jaundiced and her liver was extremely enlarged.  She also was retaining fluid and was in heart failure.  She likely had damage to her heart valves from Rheumatic Fever when she was younger.  Her problems were triggered by the INH medication again.

Elizabeth had a difficult weekend being extremely short of breath.  We prayed all weekend that there would be no power outages as she desperately needed supplemental Oxygen from an oxygen concentrator that requires electricity to run.  We fortunately had fewer outages than normal and we were all encouraged Monday morning when she looked slightly better.  I figured everyday she could manage gave here liver a chance to recover from the INH insult.  Yesterday morning Elizabeth lost her fight and left a grieving family trying to understand why someone so young was no longer with them.  Elizabeth, like so many people here, endured a terrible illness with great dignity.  She and her family remain in our prayers today.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


19 month old Praises was brought to the hospital by her mother 10 days ago.  She had been ill for the prior one week with fever and diarrhea.  She spent several days in a small Health Center and they reported that she had vomited up a tapeworm but despite their treatments she showed no improvement.  She was very ill and lethargic on arrival.  All of her tests failed to reveal what was wrong with her.  She passed blood in her stool for several days last week  and she remained as limp as a doll.  Over the last couple of days Praises has become more responsive and even called for her mother for the first time this morning.  Our limited diagnostics can be frustrating with cases like this.  We keep her in our daily prayers and are hopeful that we will see see more shine in her eyes each day.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Typhoid Joel

3 weeks ago 8 year old Joel arrived at the hospital critically ill.  He had a fever of 105 with jaundice and abdominal distention.  Tests revealed he had Typhoid and also was a Sickle Cell carrier with severe anemia.  After 3 days of treatment with IV fluids, blood transfusions and antibiotics Joel showed no improvement and I was worried whether he was going to survive.  The next morning his fever finally started to go down and a little glimpse of a smile could occasionally could be seen on his face.  Over the following 10 days Joel gradually became a happy smiling 8 year old boy with a ear to ear grin.

He was discharged over a week ago but has remained on the Pediatrics Ward while his mother went home to get money to cover his hospital bill.  The other mothers on the ward have collectively provided for Joel in his mother’s absence.