Saving limbs and lives in Chad
Reports from BMS World Mission doctors at the Guinebor II Hospital
How far would you travel to prevent the unnecessary amputation of your son’s leg? What if the doctor says it’s the only way to save your seven-year-old child? This is just one of the many difficult situations the doctors of Guinebor II Hospital (G2) faced at the end of 2014 in Chad.
In a country that has the world’s sixth highest infant mortality rate, the expertise and care provided by the BMS World Mission doctors and nurses serving there is drawing patients from near and far.
Sue White, a BMS nurse, was on duty when little Idriss arrived at G2 with an abscess that had left dead and dying tissue from his knee to his buttock. “The smell from his leg hit you the minute you walked into the room,” says Sue. The seven-year-old boy was in severe pain. Two weeks before coming to G2, Idriss had received an injection at another clinic and unfortunately his leg became infected. When it started, his father took him to the general hospital in N’Djamena but they only stayed a few days because the doctors there wanted to amputate Idriss’ leg.
Once admitted to G2, he was given pain killers and antibiotics intravenously and a blood transfusion before the dead tissue could be removed. “This is not as easy as you might think,” says Sue, “there is no blood bank here. People have to rely on relatives with the same blood type to come forward.” This meant waiting days because Idriss’ family had to travel to the hospital. Mark Hotchkin, a BMS doctor, successfully performed the surgery and Idriss is recovering nicely. He is able to walk around on his own again and, without the pain, he laughs and plays the way a seven-year-old should.
Another case is that of 14-month-old Moussa. Despite his age, he has already survived two traumatic events. Six months after his birth, Moussa’s mother died. Then two months later, his leg was scalded by hot cooking oil. As he healed, he developed a contracture, leaving him unable to extend his leg. His father and grandmother brought him to G2 for surgery and a skin graft. With the two procedures successfully done, baby Moussa is moving on to his next adventure, learning to walk.
Sometimes G2 has to refer their patients to other hospitals because they do not have the equipment to treat them. In situations like these their expertise has helped steer patients in the right direction. Little Djidda’s case was one of these.
A week after playing football with his friends Djidda’s left leg became weak. Then within the space of four days he lost his ability to walk and speak. He was taken to a hospital and tested for polio. Those results came back negative but they did not offer any other solutions. So he was brought to G2.
“When I saw him, it was as if he had had a stroke,” says Mark. “He was paralysed down one side, semi-conscious and agitated.” A CT scan was suggested but the only available one was at a private hospital and cost £198, nearly two months wages. The family paid anyway and the results showed a deep infection, small abscesses and swelling on the right side of his brain. Though they performed the scan, the hospital does not treat children and, according to Mark, there are no neurosurgeons in Chad.
Fearful that it was too late, Mark started Djidda on strong antibiotics and steroids. A day and a half into the treatment he woke up, terrified and crying. Mark hugged and prayed for him as he calmed down. The next day Djidda started walking and soon after that he could talk again.
Djidda was discharged on Tuesday having made an almost full recovery. He is still limping and struggles with his left hand but does so with a lovely and, for now, lopsided smile.
It is easy to take things like CT scans and blood banks for granted since they are easily accessible in the West. In Chad, Guinebor II and the skilled staff there are a beacon of hope for the sick.
Please pray for the doctors, nurses and other staff at G2 serving as many people as they can. You can support Guinebor II’s next project by donating to the Chad Maternity Centre Appeal. Give today and help mothers and babies have a better start.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission