A few days after arriving in Zambia, the OMNI team held a clinic at Kasango, a community half an hour from Ndola. Wound care is my station, but I wasn’t particularly busy, so I was asked to accompany a little 10-month baby girlnamed, Gift Pasella, to the hospital. Our pediatrician had examined Gift and found her significantly dehydrated and febrile and wanted the child admitted for IV hydration and malaria treatment. We gave a dose of Panadol for fever and I got on the bus with Gift and family.
Ten minutes into the ride the baby grew more lethargic, stopped whimpering and her breathing got erratic. Our driver is tearing over the unpaved road as fast as he can. I’m urging him to go faster as I watch terror spread over the Mama’s face and watch the baby’s tiny fingers turn dusky then white as pearls. She stopped breathing altogether several times. I was unwrapping her from the Mother’s sling and pouring water over her to cool her down. Praying “Please, please not this little one too. Oh god why?”
We did get to the hospital. The baby died shortly thereafter.
I am still working on how to process this. It does give me some perspective though. I have felt cheated to have had Morgan for only 20 years. I doubt that her Mama was even 20 and she only had her child for 10 months. A dramatic reminder that life of whatever duration should be celebrated exactly as this baby was named, a gift.
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