About Me

My name is Jen Hathorn. I'm a family medicine physician. Since January 2015 I have been living in Egbe Nigeria, which is in Kogi State. I am serving at a bush hospital practicing full spectrum family medicine. I am working with an organization called World Medical Mission which is a part of Samaritan's Purse. This blog is my place to stay connected with you through stories, meditations and pictures. I hope that you enjoy reading the posts!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let the Little Children Come

How can this child be alive? I’m rather shocked that she is! She weighs less than most newborn babies at 5 pounds 2 ounces and she is already 3 months old.  Formula comes out of her nose when her mom tries to give her a bottle because she has a gapping hole in her hard palate. Her eyes are bulging from her head, seemingly sightless, a result of pressure pushing from the inside out. The left eye is a mess! The cornea is melting off in a yellow goo because of a hemorrhage that displaced it. I take a deep breath and collect my thoughts. Then I place my stethoscope on her chest and hear a harsh systolic murmur. It reminds me of a strong wind pushing through a tunnel in short rhythmic bursts. I step back from examining her and just look at this small family. Her parents are young, very young. They are also very poor. She is the only child, a previous pregnancy ended too soon. Now they sit huddled around the hospital bed, her mom cuddling her in a soft pink blanket. With a mothers love she looks down at her baby and smiles. Her young father stands by quietly. I don’t know his age, but he can’t be more than 20 years old. He keeps imploring me with his eyes. I assume he wants me to help them, but can’t or won’t say the words. He leaves the talking to mother. The baby has clearly been ill since birth but in naivety, poverty or both they have not sought care until now. What can I do? She has great medical needs, beyond my scope of practice and beyond the scope of this hospital. Evan as I decide to refer her I know that her parents don’t have the money needed to get the interventions she will need. As I share my findings and discuss my recommendations with them, they want to leave the hospital quickly to save what little money they have for travel to the big city hospital I said they should go to. I gently insist that they stay for the night. I'll pay for the overnight hospital bill and for the IV hydration and antibiotics so that they can save their money. 

As I arrive early the next morning to discharge the baby, more family members are arriving. There are now 4 or 5 adults around the bed. They have raised a little more money for the travel and are eager to depart. I want to pray with them before they leave — and I want to let them know that I will keep on praying for them in the days to come. They pack up and start out, so grateful as they say goodbye. I am not really sure what they are thankful for. I have told them their only child has severe deformities and will require extremely expensive medical procedures to have even a fighting chance at life. They walk out the hospital doors and slowly vanish down the road, a small family hoping for a miracle. 

I have known them for less than 24 hours and yet they stay in my heart. As I turn back inside I wonder to myself about this little baby's life. About her meaning and purpose. About the impact she is having on her parents and her family. As I think about her, a verse comes to my mind. “And Jesus said, let the little children come unto me and forbid them not.” Matthew 19:14. So simple, so sweet. I give a prayer of thanks to the one who created this little girl and who loves her so much. He is asking, no, instructing me, to give her back to him. He wants me to thrust her life back into his gentle and loving care. I don’t have to plead with him to look after such a child, he is already asking for her to be brought to him. Let the little children come!  

1 comment:

  1. What can we say except to remember the character of God in all circumstances. He is good and only does good things (Psalm 119:68), even when we can't understand them!!! His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are not like ours (Isaiah 55:8). Thus in everything we are called to trust God, and not to lean on our own understanding of things (Proverbs 3:5-6). I will be praying for God's precious one and her family...JC