Last Thursday we had the biggest emergency in the history of our clinic in Gatineau. There’s a family that lives near the clinic and the parents have a lot of children, most of them grown. As is typical of many people who live near the clinic, they are very poor. We’ve seen most of the family in the clinic at one time or another with various illnesses.
Around 3pm on Thursday afternoon, just as we were winding up another busy clinic day, one of the daughters appeared with her aunt, complaining of severe abdominal pain. She was hunched over and groaning in pain. According to the aunt and her mother, the young woman had had pain for over three weeks, worse in the past couple of days. When I examined her abdomen, it was tight as a drum, indicating a potential surgical problem. After much encouragement, we were able to obtain a urine pregnancy test on her and it was positive. The diagnosis I suspected was a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. This was a true surgical emergency!
We held a quick family conference with her parents and other family members and told them we were willing to take her in our jeep down to the hospital in Jérémie, so that she could see a surgeon and potentially undergo an operation. They were agreeable, although all of us knew they didn’t have the money to pay for care at the hospital. So, we put her in the back of the jeep, with family members holding her on the seat and made the very painful drive down to Jérémie. She yelled with each bump in the road due to irritation of the lining of her abdomen from blood that was most likely inside. Cherlie tried to offer words of encouragement and I just concentrated on driving!
When we got to the government hospital, I went right to the Emergency Room and spoke with the young Haitian physician who was in charge. All the beds in the ER were full and he looked like it would take him all night to get finished seeing all the patients. But, when he heard the story, he told a nurse to fix a bed in another side room and, after examining her abdomen himself, proceeded to call in the surgeon and the ultrasound technician. I went with the mother to the pharmacy to buy IV needles, syringes, medications and IV fluids. The bill came to 680 Haitian gourdes. The mother had all of 200 gourdes in her purse. Needless to say, our priority at that point was saving this girl’s life. Within an hour, she had obtained an ultrasound, had lab tests done, was examined by the gynecologist who did, indeed, find blood when he put a needle in her abdomen, and was in the operating room. The total price of everything I had to buy to get her there, including the purchase of sterile gloves, suture material, antibiotics, and scalpel was 5235 Haitian gourdes or about 120 US dollars. She lived through the surgery and is recovering in the hospital now.
To all of our donors, we say “Thank you” for allowing us to have the privilege of serving the Lord in this country. Together, that day, we saved a life!