Which is why I am particularly grateful for the student rescue. Our med student Baluku Morris, two of my CSB students Birungi and Mutegheki, and my own personal student-son Luke, stepped in to save the day. Particularly Luke and Mutegheki, who ran the HIV-nutrition program today. I suppose since we were gone last week and next week is Christmas week, a month's worth of patients decided this was the day to come! All four young men worked very hard, weighing babies, counting out eggs and beans and pills, writing in ledgers and charts, translating and organizing. I think they got to see some science-in-real-life as we talked through cases, as well as get a sense of the hard work and important consequences of medical service.
And in the midst of frustrations with the poor planning, with the usual sadnesses and struggles, two outstanding moments of redemption today. First, a chunky cute little six-month-old whose AIDS-patient mother wanted to save his life by weaning him, but only if he was actually not infected. His blood screening results were not yet back, but some phone calls to the lab in Fort Portal actually worked, and we found out he was HIV-negative. Unusually, both mother and father were present together, and their joy on hearing the news fortified me for the rest of the day. And, to save the best for last, Masereka Jokim smiled. This is a 9 month old who has been barely alive at 4 kg for several weeks, one of the most skeletal and scabby infants I've ever seen, held by his all-alone Congolese mother, inactive and whimpering. Over the last few days he finally began to respond, to be hungry, to drink, to inch upward in weight. Today he hit 4.5 kg, and as I examined him, he looked up and SMILED. This is a monumental sign-post of hope.
We can live through arbitrary decrees, absent staff, and just about anything for a smile from Jokim.