Late one Thursday afternoon in September, a mother and her five-month-old child came to the hospital emergency department in Saintard, Haiti. The dehydrated child was noticeably in distress with a cough, fever, and respiratory issues. Even more noticeable was the fact that the little one’s head was much larger than the typically developing infant, and he easily could be diagnosed as having hydrocephalus. (The condition is caused by a lack of drainage of the fluid surrounding the brain, causing the fluid to accumulate and increase the size of the skull.) Mom paid for his medicine and his night’s stay in the hospital, left her contact information, then went to get some more clothes for him.
She never returned.
Her contact information was not correct, nor was her name. All we know is that her little one, whom she called Jean Nixon, was now another name on our list of abandoned children at our small hospital. Usually we can find a place for the children who are abandoned, either with a family or a host of licensed children’s homes with whom we work, but this was different. Whoever agreed to care for this child would need to find a facility that could do the appropriate surgery for him, provide the recovery care, then assume his care from that point forward. During a time of extreme upheaval in Haiti, neither the government nor the normal contacts were available to help. After multiple calls, emails, texts, posts, and letters, no one could be found to care for Jean Nixon. If the surgery to correct the drainage problem of the fluid around his brain was to be done without damage, timing was of the essence. The clock was ticking.
As of the writing of this blog (December), he is still with us, being cared for in the emergency department. His fever and other basic health issues have been addressed but the surgery for his hydrocephalus is beyond our reach. Each day, he is changed and fed by a member of the staff or he is aided by the kindness of the family of another patient. His life and longevity continue to hang in the balance, as all of us try to find a solution for a better life for him. He has become one of the “family” of the hospital staff as his care is shared among nearly everyone. His head continues to enlarge, and his countenance becomes progressively less expressive. We all fear the inevitability of his difficult future, but we choose to care for Jean Nixon. We choose hope.
At this time of year where we pause to count our blessings and draw our family close, we think of the patients who have passed through the hospital doors who have such need, often with little family support. We are so thankful that the small hospital in Saintard, Haiti exists to be a “family” for Jean Nixon, as he has no one else.
Mother Teresa once said that “the problem with the world is that we draw the circle of family too small”. Jean Nixon has been blessed that the circle is big enough to include him. All of us at Hôpital L’Eglise de Dieu Réformée continue to be blessed that your circle has been big enough to include us. We thank you for your prayers, your continued support and for including us in the circle of your family.