In the female ward Esther’s phone rang. It was her older sister who had been at Esther’s bedside every day during her 3-week hospitalization. I heard her speak to Esther in Liberian English then ask, “howa you?” Esther, who one week earlier was fighting for her life, smiled brightly and answered, “I feel fine…I feel super!” Esther (not her real name) was admitted to ELWA hospital in mid December after she developed a fever and collapsed. Her sister told us that she had become increasingly weak over the past year and was vomiting frequently and losing weight. In the ER she was fading in and out of consciousness with a temperature that exceeded 103 degrees. Her blood work showed severe malaria and her HIV test was positive. After a week of IV fluids, antibiotics and antimalarial medication, Esther became increasingly alert and was able to eat. She was seen by the HIV counselors at the hospital. After gaining a clear understanding of her illness and the importance of taking her medication, she began anti-HIV therapy. Shortly after starting the medication, Esther became critically ill again, a condition brought about by the reconstitution of her ailing immune system. With diligent nursing care and continued antibiotics and fluids, slowly her strength returned.
Little C.K. is a one-month old infant who is pictured here on his day of discharge from the hospital. C.K. presented to the emergency room with sepsis and severe malaria. (One in twelve children in Liberia die before the age of 5 and the most common cause is malaria. This disease is responsible for taking the lives of nearly 4 thousand Liberians each year). Little C.K. had not fed well for a week and by the time we saw him he had a high fever and was barely conscious. After a week of aggressive care in the hospital he began to recover. He was vigorous, feeding well and gaining weight at the time of discharge. What this photo does not capture is the huge smile of relief on mom’s face. She realized that her child had come close to death and she left the hospital repeatedly giving thanks to God for saving her child.
It is a blessing to be here in Liberia, caring for patients like Esther and C.K. whose lives have been touched by the caring staff at ELWA hospital. We see infants with malaria, typhoid, diarrhea and sepsis, children who have been struck by cars, and adults with stroke, HIV, abdominal infections and tetanus. The intensity of illness and injuries here is a constant reminder of life’s fragile nature and the importance for our team here at ELWA hospital to continue to share Christ’s love with those that we serve.