Death and Taxes

I just got back to Haiti on April 18 after going home for a short visit to do taxes. 

I had to do my personal taxes as well as be sure we had completed all the IRS requirements for Kelby’s Kids (the government calls us a "Non-Profit 501(C)3."  We also had to file new documentation with the state because we have now grown enough to now be a part of the official State of Michigan Charitable Registry through the Michigan Attorney General’s office!

In traditional fashion, once back in Haiti, I hit the ground running. 

I had been notified before getting back that one of the staff at the school was sick. 

She is 3 months pregnant and was having trouble breathing. She had gone to the hospital and they said she was having heart issues. But it was too late in the day so she would have to come back tomorrow. She returned the next day and was told that she had Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). 

They stated that they could not care for her because she was pregnant and they sent her to the children’s hospital. The children's hospital would not treat her (due to her being adult) and referred her to a different hospital.  

The woman's husband came to the school and told us that they wanted to send her to a Tuberculosis Sanitarium to be treated (although he knew she didn't have TB diagnosis). The sanitarium is NOT a good place for a pregnant Mamma to be.

He told them to give him some time and came to the school for help.  He had a copy of her chest x-ray. The x-ray didn't indicate heart failure. It did, however, indicate an infection in a large part of her right lung. 

We decided the  they were going to kill her if we didn’t take action so I went with him to take her to another hospital which is outside of their insurance network — but something had to be done. 

We went to the hospital to pick her up and the conditions were unbelievable. 

Beds and patients were in the entryway and lobby. 

We went into an exam room. It was small room — with nine beds packed into it. 

It was a co-ed room — with no curtains or dividers for privacy. 

It was very apparent that the patient on bed #8 had passed away. 

I began to assess our pregnant patient as she was in obvious respiratory distress. Meanwhile, all the other patients in the crowded exam room noticed what I was doing and  asked me to help them, too!

We signed some paperwork and were on our way to her fourth(!) hospital.  I was worried how she would do on the ride without oxygen but she did okay. 

When we arrived at the ER of the fourth hospital, I walked in and one of the workers recognized me from HERO Ambulance.  I told them I work with HERO but not that day. 

An American doctor from a visiting medical team met with us and asked what was happening. I quickly explained the entire story and what I though was going on and I showed him the x-ray. He agreed with my diagnosis and ordered a ultrasound. 

The ultrasound confirmed that her heart was good (and was not in CHF) but did, indeed, have a large "plural effusion" (fluid collection) from an infection in the right side of her chest.  The doc headed to find the equipment he'd need. 

He came back a short time later. And with my assistance, and with a large group of Haitian staff,  he performed a thoracentesis (by placing a small tube in through her back and into her lung). 

He removed 1,700mls (almost two liters) of fluid from her right chest! 

She immediatley was able to breath better. 

It can be traumatic for the body to have to re-inflate a lung, but after just a few minutes, our pregnant patient was doing much better.

After we were sure all the fluid was gone, the tube was removed and we took her home with a prescription for antibiotics (to help ensure the infection would be stopped). 

Although it was an invasive procedure — especially for Haiti — it was rather simple fix for her body. But, if she would have had to wait another 24 hours or so in any, I'm confident her and her baby would have died in any one of the other three hospitals she went to.

We are monitoring her and hope she will soon be as good as new!

Shortly thereafter I returned to the clinic to do some routine wound care.

And guess who was there?  Rachel and her baby!! 

Rachel is the one that I sent in for an emergency C-section after I found her with preeclampsia, shortly before I came back to the States (see blog post “What About Me”). 

The baby is tiny (at 2.2kg/4.8lbs) but seems to be doing well. 

I'm so thankful for the Lord's direction to find this young lady and be able to save her and her baby's life! All because of Rachel’s friend!

 Naisha at 20 days old

Naisha at 20 days old

When I returned, there was a team at the school that had been working hard.  It was the senior class trip from a Christian school. 

They had done a lot of projects around the school and were working with the kids after Easter break. They were here for 12 days but I didn’t get back until four days before they left. 

Early Thursday morning they came and got me as one of the students had gotten sick during the night.  The student was dehydrated (but it also seemed to have more going on). 

I started an IV on her and ended up giving her four liters of fluid!

You have to drink lots of water here in Haiti. 

The next morning by 6:00am a second student had gotten sick.  I started and IV on her as well.  This was their last day and they were packing to go home. 

It’s good it was the end of the trip but it's not fun to travel when you’re sick. By 8:00am another student was sick. And then another

As I was finishing up trying to make sure they had everything they might need for the trip home, I could tell something was a little off. (I have not heard from anyone on the team once they returned home, but I am sure many more would experiencing similar symptoms.)  

As they pulled out of the gate, Sherrie said, "what a great team!" 

I replied, "Yes, but they got me, I am going to bed."

I headed to my room, got in bed, and before too long, I was vomiting. 

I spent the next 26 hours in bed! (As I laid there, I actually spent time planning how I would start an IV on myself. I knew I could poke myself — I have done it before — but how to take the cover off the tubbing, connecting it to the IV catheter without bending it or bleeding, and taping it down is really a two-handed process.)  

I have basically been in my room for the last 3 days. I am finally starting to feel better and am hoping to be 100% for clinic tomorrow. There is work to be done!

They say there are only two guarantees in life — death and taxes. 

I took care of my taxes and, together, you and I are fighting death on a daily basis.

We've saved four lives during this blog-post alone! (Not including the work in the medical clinics and malnutrition clinic.)  

If you’re not already involved in some way with Kelby’s Kids I hope you would consider being a part of the work going on here in Haiti so it can continue for many more years with many more lives saved!

Until No Child Dies,

Kelby