We first met our patient Chabela about six weeks ago, in March. Her father lives here in Rio Viejo, but she had moved away five years ago with her new husband. In February she began to have sores on her lower legs that would not heal, but instead grew larger and more infected by the day. She made the long trip from her mountain village to La Ceiba only to be sent home to wait until the Easter holidays were over. Most people were leaving on vacation and tests needed to be run to confirm wether or not she had the blood bourne parasite called “Leishmaniasis”. Our neighbors and friends who run the Christian high school across the street brought her into their home to help her while she waited out the holidays for the test results. By the time she made it to Rio Viejo she could no longer walk and had to be carried into the hospital. Her organs were beginning to shut down as she was severely malnourished and dehydrated. Her body was giving up the fight to live. We doctored her, scrubbing her wounds and gave her the strongest antibiotics we had. We all began to care for her and pray for her as the days passed. She began to improve! She was eating regularly, drinking lots of fluids and taking medicines around the clock. She was finally improving, we were all ecstatic — including her father, who had not seen her for five years nor met his two grandkids who were born while she was away. I took their picture during the first reunion which took place on the porch of the clinic! Don Antonio was to thrilled to see his daughter again! And the kids went to him as if they had known him all of their lives.
Don Antonio holding his grandkids for the first time! Chabela’s right leg on her last visit to the hospital
Three weeks later the test results were finally in and Chabela did in fact have Leishmaniasis and would need to begin the 21 days of injections to kill the parasites that were in her bloodstream. We saw Chabela last week at the hospital. Her legs were improving, but other sores had begin to break out on other parts of her body. She was going to begin the injections that week at a government health center close to her Mother’s home. We had done all we could and it was imperative that she begin the injections.
On Monday of last week we learned that Chabela had passed away during the night after only 6 days of injections. Her body could not handle the severe drugs needed to kill the parasites. Sharon and I attended her funeral on Monday afternoon. We couldn’t help but cry as the family mourned the loss of a daughter, wife and mother. She was only 23 years old. We all asked ourselves if we could have done more. If she had come out of the village sooner, if she had only been stronger, if only, if only. We trust God and His infinite wisdom, and we pray for her family as they mourn her loss. We pray that through all of us she saw the love of God.
Nahum when he first came to the hospital Nahum with Martin & Sharon the next day, all smiles!
The very next day at the hospital were were able to feel joy again, joy at a life saved, joy for the young man who will see his 12th birthday because we were here. God has such a wonderful way of turning our sorrow into joy. Nahum was working with his grandfather in the village of Los Limpios when he accidentally fell with his machete and cut his hand deeply in two places. His grandfather poured gasoline on the open wound because he heard that this would stop the bleeding. When Nahum arrived after the two hour walk he was covered in blood and pale. The bleeding had to be stopped, so Martin and Sharon rushed him in and went to work. The hand had to be stitched quickly, no time for anestetics! This brave young man hardly uttered a sound as he writhed in pain while the preliminary stitching went on. After a very tense half hour the bleeding was under control and we could all breathe a sigh of relief. While Martin was stitching and Sharon applying pressure, I was forcing liquids down him. What an incredible 11 year old he is!! An hour later, he was sewed up, injected with antibiotics, sufficiently hydrated and on his way home. Since then we have seen Nahum every day to check on his progress. He is doing wonderfully and comes with a big smile on his face every day. Since then we have had other patients come from Nahum’s family. I guess we passed the test with him and they now want to try out the doctor for themselves!
We continue to thank God that He is using our family to serve the people of Honduras. We thank Him for our patients and for all those He sends our way. May we always be a reflection of His love.