Monday, December 22, 2008

Joyce - please help!

Made it safely home! Ironically, the journey from Nairobi to Indianapolis, while long, went pretty smoothly. It was only in Davenport, Iowa where I ran into a hitch! On the drive from Indy to Ames (to spend Christmas with my parents), there was some inclement weather and icy roads. After passing multiple accidents and seeing about 5 ambulances pass me on the interstate, I decided to stop in Davenport and get a hotel rather than ending up upside down on the side of the road somewhere. I picked a hotel near the mall and got some much needed Christmas shopping done while killing time and got home without too much drama the next day. It is good to be back!

One part of my trip to Kenya that I haven't written about yet is my experience with a patient on our medical team at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. The little girl above is an approximately 16 month old girl with a cleft lip and cleft palate (obviously) who was in the hospital for failure to thrive (failure to grow and gain weight appropriately). Despite hospitalization for 3 months, she continues to not grow. This could have been due to any number of reasons including her cleft lip and palate. The hospital staff was not equipped to perform the intensive feeding that she would require to get enough calories. While we were there, however, we noticed she seemed to sweat a lot with her feedings (that's not normal) and suspected a heart defect. We obtained an echocardiogram and yes, she has a ventricular septal defect which means she has a hole between the two lower chambers of her heart. She will not be able to grow adequately and eventually, her heart will fail because of the size of this defect. Her only solution is a surgical intervention to correct this. This will be difficult because the funding to perform this surgery does not exist under the current medical system in Kenya.

So now you know, her medical background. Joyce is a beautiful, happy little girl who was, unfortunately, abandoned at the hospital because her mother didn't feel she had the ability or resources to care for her. Joyce plays peek-a-boo, is desperately trying to crawl but doesn't have the strength since she is the size of a one month old, mimicks sounds (her favorite "word" is "gooley, gooley, gooley, gooley," loves the mobiles that hang over her crib and in general is pretty much one of the sweetest children I have ever encountered. One of the medical students and his wife (Don & Crystal) who were there during my time in Kenya pretty much fell in love with this adorable little girl (okay, I did too). They are spear-heading a fundraising effort to provide this life-saving surgery for Joyce. They have set up a Paypal account at the following address for people to contribute.

If you have a few extra dollars to donate during this Christmas season, that would be wonderful. I assure you that all funds will be going directly to medical expenses or travel expenses related to Joyce receiving this surgery. We are still working on whether she would get this surgery in Nairobi or perhaps travel to the United States. As events progress, I will continue to provide updates on this blog. And if you have any other questions, please let me know!

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