Monday, December 28, 2009

The Story of Baby Lokute

I met Tamara and Jeremy about 1 1/2 weeks before I was due to go home. They work in the village of Masese 3 (more on Masese another time), right on the outskirts of downtown Jinja. We were introduced to them because they have been planning on doing some health teaching with members of the village church so that those people can go out into the villages and teach the village members how to care for themselves. When they found out Andrea and I were nurses, they asked if we would be willing to teach a class. So, that is how we met the wonderful Tamara and Jeremy, who's introduction radically shook up our last 2 weeks in Uganda.

Just a few days after we met, I got a call from Tamara that went something like this:
"Um, we're in Masese right now at some one's hut, and she just gave birth to a very premature baby. It still has hair on it's face. What should we do?"
"How is his breathing?"
"Hold on, it's dark in here. Let me go outside."
"Do you want us to just come?"
"Yes! We'll pick you up in 15 minutes."

So out we drove to Masese where we went into a dark mud hut. Using my phone for light, I peeled back the blankets and saw this tiny boy...

His breath and his heart was slow. We couldn't even get a temperature reading on his body. We quickly realized we were going to need to take him to the hospital. So off we drove with mom and baby to Al Shafa Modern Medical Center in Jinja where the doctor listened to the babies heart for all of 2 seconds and then declared, "He's premature!" Thank you very much. I couldn't tell. Nobody took his temperature (which was 32 C... normal is 37C). Nobody checked his breathing. They just sent us into this room to care for him. He was laid on the yellow blanket and warmed by a space heater because the only incubator in Jinja was broken, though it turned out that this place was better than Jinja Hospital where they would have warmed him over a charcoal fire.

By some miracle of God, the nurse was able to start an IV of this babies tiny hand and started oxygen, which was flowing out of an adult size nasal cannula that we had to just hold by his face. And we had no idea how much oxygen we were giving him because the gauge on the tank didn't work. After we settled in and got everything set up, baby Lokute's breathing slowed to the point that we were contemplating doing CPR. I quickly rushed over to Amani (the baby home I worked at last year) to pick up some supplies, because they are very well stocked. I grabbed a baby oxygen mask, tiny hats, clothes, blankets... anything I could think of since Al Shafa had nothing. Of course, in the process of trying to retrieve these things I managed to fall off a large box and crash into the shelves of medicine, leaving a very large bruise on my butt.

By the time I got back, Lokute had improved and we equipped him with his new equipment. Tamara and Jeremy ordered pizza because none of us had eaten dinner yet. We ate it off this table....

You should have heard the laughter when we all suddenly stopped and realized where we were eating. Jeremy stood there with his elbow propped up on a stirrup munching his pizza. The next morning I laid across it eating my muffin. I bet none of you have ever eaten dinner off a birthing table. :)

We spent that night in the birthing room watching over baby Lokute, because in Uganda, nobody help you in the hospital. All night, the nurses didn't come in once to check on the baby. So Andrea and I took shifts, leaning over Lokute, watching his check move up and down, checking his temperature, making sure he was still alive. That night I didn't sleep at all. I lay on a mat on the floor for a while, but not once did I fall asleep.

By morning, Lokute was doing better. He began to suck and had his first real meal. And so we left the hospital at 7am, leaving Lokute and his mom, under the watchful eye of our friend Emma, and drove to Masese where we were due to teach our medical class that morning. And trust me, you would have loved to have sat in on that class... but that's a story for another time!

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