When Fatmata, age 22, came to her appointment at Mercy Hospital's prenatal clinic, she had a very high fever and was vomiting. Diagnosed with severe malaria, she was admitted and treated with anti-malarial injections. By the end of the day, Fatmata was much improved and was released from care.
Pregnant women are at high risk of dying from the complications of severe malaria. Malaria may also cause spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, or stillbirth, and is responsible for about one third of preventable low birth weight babies.
Shortly after being discharged, Fatmata returned to the hospital in labor and delivered a healthy baby girl. "I especially appreciate the maternity staff for their hard work," Fatmata said. The patient says she chose Mercy because she had attended the hospital's prenatal clinic for her previous pregnancies.
Mariatu, age 37, collapsed into unconsciousness and was brought to the hospital by her family, where she was diagnosed with severe anemia caused by malaria. She received a blood transfusion of two whole units and antimalarial drugs. Mariatu made a full recovery and was released. "Words cannot express how happy I am," Mariatu says. "I really appreciate the team work."
Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of malaria infection in the world. The country's entire population is at risk of the disease and it is one of the leading causes of death and illness. Young children are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death from malaria, which contributes to close to twenty percent of child mortality. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has committed to reducing new cases of the disease up to 40 percent by 2020, which will require dedicated action from government, partners, health workers, and communities.
Since it is rainy season, malaria rates are higher than usual. Eleven-year-old Steven came in to Mercy with malaria and was very weak and restless. Since receiving treatment, he is feeling much better. His father, Paul Ngaojia says, “Our family is thanking God for Mercy Hospital. They have done so much for us."
Five-year-old Jerome was desperately sick when his mother brought him to Mercy suffering from a range of symptoms including severe anemia, high fever, vomiting and coughing. The Mercy staff diagnosed Jerome with malaria and an acute respiratory infection and he was admitted for treatment. After three days of intensive care and a blood transfusion for anemia, Jerome was stable enough to go home.
His mother was so happy to learn that the treatment was entirely free, as the family had no money to pay, and effusively thanked the staff for their kindness and compassion. “I am very grateful for the services given to my son. I want to thank the CHO and nurses that helped him when he was sick.”
65-year old Mamie Moijuel was coughing up blood when her family brought her to Mercy for treatment. Mamie was diagnosed with tuberculoid leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by bacteria that is endemic in poor rural areas of Africa. Tuberculoid leprosy is a mild, less severe and less contagious form of leprosy acquired through close contact.
Mamie was put on a regimen of strong antibiotics to treat her illness. The antibiotic treatment took several months, but she now tests negative for TB and her condition has improved markedly. Mamie says, “I thank God for the Mercy staff. They know how to talk to patients nicely and to make you feel better even when you are very sick. They are helping people a lot."
Five-year-old Joseph Lahai was brought to Mercy Hospital to be treated for malaria and a respiratory infection. “We came to Mercy because I had been before and had gotten good care here," his mother Baby Song says. "I am so happy that Mercy is in existence and always willing to help.” If not for Mercy, this mother would not have been able to afford treatment for her little boy, who survived and is well on his way to recovery.
17 month old Mohamed, admitted to Mercy Hospital with severe anemia caused by malaria, would die if he didn't receive a blood transfusion, but his O negative blood type is extremely rare and none of his family members could donate. Nurse Karen Hall, who was serving with the July UMVIM team, shares his blood type and gladly volunteered to donate. The family was so grateful to Karen, who truly saved their son's life. Read Karen's story:
"I was all set to go on our team's second medical outreach. I had some time on my hands, so I was visiting with (Medical Programs Field Director Specialist) Kim Sprout at the MTC. Gary, our team doctor walked in pointed at me and said, "what's your blood type?" I told him O negative and he looked like he had seen a ghost. He explained that there was a baby with severe malaria and needed a transfusion. It was virtually impossible to find O negative, and if they found it, it would not make it to Mercy in time to save the baby. Apparently only 7% of the world's population has 0 negative blood type. Gary was not expecting any of the team to be a match. Gary asked me if I was willing to donate, and of course I was. Anyone on our team would have been.
Gary said he would let Mercy know and let me know what they said. He must have run, because in no time he was back at the MTC. I went to the lab and George (the Mercy lab manager) did a type and screen on my blood and the next thing I knew the donation had begun. Before I knew it, the donation was complete. I went over to Mercy to let the CHO Deborah know I was finished. I started getting sick and she sent me upstairs to rest.
Over the next few hours, I found myself praying with all my heart that the baby would live, that the transfusion would be successful. Before I left the hospital I peeked in on the baby. The mom looked worried out of her mind. I know that look. The baby was receiving the transfusion at that time and was not looking so good. I prayed with all my heart that this would be a story of life. As we know HIs ways are not our ways and our hearts desires are not always the answer. The spirit continues to whisper the same familiar thing..."trust me."
That evening Gary had received a good report from Mercy and was very hopeful the transfusion was a success. Later that night there was a complete lunar eclipse, a blood moon. It was only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. I felt like I was in a living Bible story.
So often it is hard to see our purpose. To "know that we know that we know" that we are called to something or somewhere. This one time, God gave my heart a beautiful gift too. He gave me something that only I could do at that time. He used something that He gave me when He knit me together in my mother's womb. I think we all have times in our lives where we struggle with our purpose. I have been in that season for a while now. Not on that day or that night...and because of that beautiful gift, not today. I know my purpose, to follow HIS voice.
Sweet little Mohamed who was 17 months old went home the following Monday. His family was full of thanks. It was humbling to be thanked for something that had blessed our entire team. Mohamed's family is Muslim, and I love it that on that day we were all one. In it together. Saving each other."