Miracle baby

MSF relief workers are only human, and at times our doctors and nurses find it extremely emotionally draining to serve in conflict settings. Dr. Eva remembers:

“It had been a really tough 3 weeks, full of difficult, critical patients… We had a mass casualty incident with a bomb blast in town, and I had lost a patient recently – a child of just 7-9 years old. We do lose a lot of children here because they are too sick to be saved, and whilst I was continuing in my job, I was not feeling great.”

It happened in the Emergency Room when a woman burst in, carrying a very white, unconscious baby. The sight of the child depressed Eva even further – it looked dead already – but nevertheless Eva immediately flew into action and began trying to resuscitate the child.

At this point, the 2 year old little boy was not only pale, but was not breathing and had no pulse. The doctors learnt that he had touched an electric wire and was shocked about 20 minutes ago. In her heart, Eva did not have much hope because even if they managed to resuscitate him, the 20 minutes it took for him to reach the hospital during which his brain was deprived of oxygen and glucose (from lack of respiration), meant that there would be a high chance that he would have suffered some brain damage. Nevertheless, Eva had to try. As she said, “First you just do, and then after is when you think”.

Over the next 10-15 minutes they defibrillated the baby three times, constantly massaging his chest and breathing for him. After the third attempt, a miracle happened: his little heart started beating. However he was not out of the woods yet. The baby was transferred to the ICU where he was hooked up to the ventilator so that his brain was allowed to rest, and the risk of brain damage could be minimized as much as possible. Eva explained:

“This is probably the only place where this treatment could have been provided in the region. We are one of only two facilities with ventilators – but more importantly we actually have staff here who know how to use the equipment.”

After 24 hours, Eva removed the sedation, and a second miracle happened: the little boy woke up so quickly that the team was able to remove the ventilator – and he was not only able to breathe all by himself, he even started talking! Within 1-2 hours, he was asking his father whether they could go to the bazaar; and it was hard to believe that this little boy who had such a strong will to live, had been the same still, white child that had arrived just 24 hours earlier.

For Eva, he will forever be remembered as her ‘Miracle Baby’.

Life and death can be so close to each other and emergency is a race against time.  Please support MSF today so that more Afghanistan people can receive the proper medical care in time. Thank you!