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Tuesday afternoon we were admitted at Tenwek Mission Hospital, where Abigail’s surgery was to take place. There was a medical team mostly from Maine Medical Center in place to provide utmost care. The waiting began.
I handed Abigail over to the team at 5pm on Wednesday the 3rd of May. My eyes instantly welled with tears. The next 4 hours were the longest 4 hours I’ve ever experienced. At exactly 9pm the head Surgeon, Dr. White, came and found us in the pediatric ward. “Everything went perfect,” he said, “they are finishing up and will be moving her to the recovery room and then you can go see her”. We waited and waited some more and then I got impatient and went up to the recovery room around 9:40pm.
They were just about to call me anyway, so I had good timing. It was hard to see her, but at the same time I felt so much relief. That night I stayed by her bed until 2 am, when the nurses made up a bed for me in the emergency receiving area so I could rest a bit and promised to wake me up if anything changed. Regardless I was up at 5 am and back at her bedside. That morning she drank almost 5 ounce of formula and it was like I had a different baby. Previously she would never take more than 3 ounces in a setting because she got too tired.
We stayed in recovery (post-anesthesia care unit) until Friday morning, where we were moved to HDU (high dependency unit) where they can closely monitor post op patients. We moved from HDU back to the pediatric ward on Saturday afternoon. We were then discharged Monday afternoon! Abigail passed through post-op with flying colors and all the Drs were very impressed with her recovery. She continues to do very well and in 6-8 weeks she should be able to do everything a baby her age would do. She is already sitting with much more strength and endurance than pre-op and is taking her bottles like a champ. She turned 7 month old on the 6th while we were in the hospital.
There is something that brings you together with strangers when your child is sick. We made bonds with 5 other families whose children were having similar surgeries. The families of baby Fiona, Faith, Matthew, Joseph and Chara. I believe 11 surgeries were done in the 5 days the team had to do them. Abigail was by far the youngest and smallest of them. We shared stories with these 5 other families. We checked on each others children. We laughed, we cried, we worried, we prayed. Unfortunately less than 24 hours post operation, baby Fiona passed away. She was 2 years and 4 months old and weighed a mere 12 pounds. She was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and suspected to have DiGeorges syndrome. If she had lived in a western country she would have had surgery shortly after birth, and I am sure her life would have looked very different. Instead I watched as the team worked for almost an hour to revive her, doing everything they could possibly do. I heard her mother’s shrieking cries in the hallway when they told her, I watched as they carried her lifeless body out in a cardboard box. The harsh truth of being born in Africa. Please pray for baby Fiona’s family as they grieve. And please pray for these other families as their children recover.