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Learning from a little girl

Some of you have followed the story of my 5-year old patient Jenina, a little girl with nephrotic syndrome (protein losing urinary disease) who has been in the hospital since January.  Young Jenina went home today!  She is such a special little girl with a beautiful voice and faith in Jesus.  She loves to braid hair and dress up.  It took her about 5minutes to prepare herself to take this picture.  In Swahili she sang to me this past week, “He gives and takes away.  May the name of the Lord be praised.  He is good.”

Jenina and family, August 2017

I asked the family if I could share her story.    The family was willing to stay in the hospital (even 6 months) if it meant another chance at life.  We tried multiple drugs, including tuberculosis therapy and a kind of chemotherapy.  We did everything short of a renal biopsy as pathology is just not available in this part of the world.  I will probably never know exactly what kind of kidney disease she has, but as is so often in this part of the world, you try various things and you watch closely.  The immunosuppressive medication called tacrolimus traveled around the world from India, to the US, to Congo to help control her disease.  It seems to have helped.  We finally got her dose of steroids down to a manageable level and will come back to see me in a month.  It is a small victory.  Is she cured of her disease?  Not yet, but it is manageable.  I want her to have the best quality of life possible.  May the name of the Lord be praised.

They agreed that this would be good.  The family thought Jenina was not going to survive as her body was so swollen and she had no energy.

This little girl touched my life and taught me several things.

-She reminded me the importance of love in medicine.

-She reminded me to be patient when looking for the best therapy and to not give up.

-She taught me to push the limits of what is possible medically, even out here in Congo.

-She reminded me that children experience the love of God very tangibly and this is often how they come to know Jesus.

-She reminded me how important it is to give thanks to God in all things and to share our stories with others.

Our family is leaving tomorrow with our friends for a little safari vacation in western Uganda.  We have been looking forward to this time all summer.  Unfortunately, both Warren and Emmanuel came down with malaria this past weekend so we have been recovering.  I need a break from clinical medicine and to think about other things for a while.  It is really important to get a break.  We will also be acquiring some medical supplies and equipment for the hospital during our time in Uganda.

THANK YOU so much to all of you who have responded so generously to the work of Nyankunde Hospital during this time of crisis.  God has used you to bless us and remind us of His faithfulness.  We will keep you updated on what we have been able to accomplish.  Keep praying for our hospital and ministry.

Many blessings,

Lindsey (for the Coopers)

Jenina, January 2017


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