Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Child with Leukemia

Manuela is 10 years old and newly diagnosed with acute leukemia. She was with difficult breathing and very pale when she arrived with her parents to our clinic. She lives in the village of Pasin with her parents and seven siblings. We know the family as we had sent their youngest child to the hospital last year for a severely infected leg. I remember the mom as a very young looking 32 year old Mayan woman and was astonished when she told me she had eight children; she married at 15 years. She stayed with her baby at that time for ten days at the bedside in the government hospital. We knew they were responsible parents who would make a sacrifice for the welfare of their children. The Cancer Hospital for children is in the city, three hours from the mission. The treatment is without charge but a parent must accompany the child during their stay in the hospital. Manuela was admitted to Intensive Care on arrival with severe anemia. She was placed in oxygen and in the next two days received two blood transfusions which greatly improved her status and she was removed from Intensive Care. Her father chose to stay with her since there is an infant in the family of nine months and the mother is breast feeding.

We are very fortunate to have an excellent contact with one of the physicians in charge. Today she called to give an update on Manuelas condition. The initial treatment with chemotherapy requires two months hospitalization with the entire treatment is received over two years. A Psychologist explains the treatment and committment required and the risks to the family. Manuelas parents are willing to accompany their child on her long, difficult road to a cure. The doctor has asked if Manuela can return to our clinic after the initial two months since their home has a dirt floor and the possibility of infection and adequate nutrition are risks that are a concern in her convalescence. I agreed we could take the responsibility for her intermittent care between chemotherapy treatments with one of her older sisters accompanying her in the clinic. We would also facilitate her transport to and from the city for future treatments. Please keep Manuela in your prayers. I will update you on her journey to wellness!

Photos included are are a picture of Manuela in our clinic before she departed for the Childrens CANCER Hospital in Guatemala City and the other picure is of their kitchen at home. You can understand the concern the doctor has for risk of infection and adequate nutrition. This is another family we will gift one of our ONIL stoves. Thank You for responding to our request also for purchasing a stove for a poor family for $100.