Charity was born to a first-time mom with HIV. Normally, that one statement is enough to make any healthcare provider pause with concern. In Africa, it is all too common, but amazing efforts over the last 2 decades have resulted in HIV exposed infants growing up healthy and without the devastating disease. Amazingly, being born to a mom with HIV is not her greatest health challenge.
Charity was born at a dependable local hospital and like most babies, she went home with mom between 24 and 48 hours of life. After one day at home, Charity’s mom became concerned because she threw up nearly everything she ate. Feeding after feeding, the milk just sat in Charity’s mouth. On her 5th day of life, Charity’s family brought her to PCEA Chogoria Hospital Casualty Department (emergency department) for evaluation.
Initially, the medical team hoped she was just having normal breast feeding problems, such as her mom was not making enough milk or maybe Charity was not making a strong latch with her mouth. However, the medical intern on pediatrics knew that the problem might be more than just this so she was admitted as a patient to the Shinda (Pediatrics) Ward.
Quickly after coming to the Shinda Ward, it was clear her problem was not routine, and she was not swallowing any breast milk. With every feed she would cough and milk would be pushed out her nose and mouth.
An X-ray showed that her esophagus did not have a normal connection to her stomach. She was born with a tracheoesophageal fistula, which is where there is a connection between the esophagus and trachea.
Her situation became even more dangerous as she developed pneumonia from all the milk that was forced into her upper airway. We did all that was possible at PCEA Chogoria Hospital; she was given antibiotics and oxygen for her aspiration pneumonia, intravenous fluid for dehydration, and we stopped all feeding. We knew that without surgical intervention she was going to die.
We do not have a pediatric surgeon at our hospital. It is a common problem for Kenya and most of Africa. Many infants will die every day because there is just no one with the training to operate on these little ones. Fortunately, there is a pediatric surgeon at AIC Kijabe Hospital, a Christian mission hospital which is about 6 hours to the southwest of our hospital. Our two facilities have a close professional, academic and spiritual relationship, and after a simple doctor to doctor phone call, the process for transfer was started.
By God’s grace, the family’s national insurance coverage was activated that morning, which covered almost the entire hospital bill which was a huge concern for the family. The next challenge would be transportation of this small newborn on oxygen and IV fluids to Kijabe Hospital, over 6 hours away.
The cost of ambulance transport is significant, over a month’s wages for the average family, and most cannot afford the service at all. The family was able to contribute to the total ambulance cost, but the rest was paid for by the Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF). This wonderful patient aid program was literally lifesaving. With the financial assistance of the MBF, she was brought halfway across the country of Kenya to receive a lifesaving operation by a skilled pediatric surgeon. Her family did not have to make the choice of paying for the ambulance or paying for food next week.
Charity’s transportation from Chogoria to Kijabe was blessedly uneventful. Her surgery was very successful, and she was able to go home with her mom after about 1 week. We are praying that she will do well. If operating early, it is common for babies with this problem to do well after the surgery, but they still require close outpatient monitoring of possible complications. Since she lives close to our hospital, we look forward to follow up with her, and continuing to show this family the love of Christ through holistic medical care.
We are grateful for the team we have here at Chogoria Hospital as well as the team of Christian mission hospitals and organizations all over Kenya. Every day, we are humbled by the difficult situations that our patients and their families face. We are thankful for God’s grace and mercy and for the opportunity to walk alongside of our patients and their families. As a team, we pray that we will continue to show the love of Christ and His healing power throughout Chogoria and the rest of Kenya.
Overall, our family is doing well, and we have been blessed with a good community here that has been very supportive. We are starting to adjust better each week in the hospital as we continue to learn. There are still difficult days here as many of our patients are very sick, however our team makes those days a little better. We pray that God will continue to give us strength as well as continue to build up and strengthen our team.
Sophia has also started adjusting better to us starting in the hospital. She still misses us when we are at work, but we have a blast with her when we come home. She is growing well and continues to talk a lot more over the past month. Her new thing is singing. She has always liked music and liked to sing. After getting home from church a couple weeks ago, she picked up one of her building blocks that looks a little like a microphone and has been singing ever since. We are thankful that she has moved on to other songs other than “Let it go…”. She also loves playing outside with her friends here and loves kicking the soccer ball. We both wish we had her energy.
We are coming home to the US for almost the whole month of December. It will be a busy time, but we will look forward to seeing many of you. Sophia is also getting excited to see all our family in person, not just on a phone screen. She got really excited when we told her we were going on a plane. We are not sure which truly makes her excited, if it is the plane or the fact she knows she gets to watch “Sofia the First” and a bunch of other Disney movies for hours at a time. Thankfully, she was always a pretty good flier as a baby, and has gotten even better over the past couple of trips.
We are very grateful and humbled for all the generous support we continue to receive so that we can serve this community. Without this support, we could not be here to walk alongside patients like Charity and their families. We are praying that God will continue to call others to partner with us financially. Right now, about 2/3 of our total yearly support comes from monthly recurring donations and about 1/3 of our total yearly support comes from one-time donations given throughout the year. Both types of donations are very important to help support our family and ministry as we serve.
As the end of 2017 gets closer, we are preparing our 2018 budget. Now that we have work permits and foreign national ID cards (soon, soon) we will begin the process of getting Kenya Driver’s License when we return from our trip to the US. We plan on purchasing a vehicle in the first part of 2018. Our monthly living expenses will be very similar to 2017 with the exception that our health insurance will be going up. However, most of our one-time costs in 2018 will come in the first 3-4 months.
One Time Costs for 2018:
-International & Domestic Flights
-Transport and lodging when traveling to Nairobi for immigration/supplies
-Continuing Medical and Dental Education (CMDE) Conference (Education, Food & Accommodation)- This is an annual conference attended by many medical missionaries from all over the world including other physicians and staff from our hospital in Chogoria. It is a good time of fellowship with other Christian healthcare missionaries. This conference allows us to obtain a lot of continuing medical education as well as participate in other required medical trainings for our specialties.
-Kenyan Immigration fees
-US and Kenyan Medical Licensing fees
-Vehicle Insurance and Taxes
We ask you to consider giving a one-time donation or start giving monthly to support our ministry in Kenya. We can only continue this work though the financial, emotional and spiritual support of you all. All donations to support us are made through our partner, Christian Health Service Corps, a 501c(3) non-profit organization. Go to https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/Brockington and please donate today. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we serve in Kenya.
Jared, Jenny, and Sophia