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Monday, May 10, 2010

A tale of two 13 year olds

I find that as my children move through their ages, the patients who correspond at the time really get to my soul.  Julia is a delightful 13:  robust, fast, friendly, kind, smart, full of life, helpful, really an amazing person.  She just came back from a week with her friends on the football team, full of laughter and stories, tired and ready for a milkshake and tacos, but also leaner and tougher in some ways.  I missed her a lot when she was in Gulu and am thankful to have her back.  Now she's reveling in school vacation time, helping pack, playing games with her best friend Acacia, having sleep-overs, milking the cow, etc.  

Saidati, my 13 year old patient with the sudden onset of severe heart failure due to rheumatic fever, died last week.  She probably never kicked a football or drank a glass of cold milk in her life.  She was about six grades behind Julia in school, half her weight, and not more than up to her shoulder in height.  She could barely breathe when lying down to sleep.  She was a sweet girl with a caring mom who was no different than everyone else until her heart valves came under immune attack in the wake of a run-of-the-mill bacterial infection, most likely a strep throat.  

There is no reason that Julia should be a beautiful thriving young woman with hope of a full future, and Saidati should be dead.  If poverty can be defined as a lack of options, alternatives, safety nets, back-up plans . . then that poverty becomes most starkly evident when disease strikes.  We try to be a small voice and hand of justice in a skewed world, but even though a generous donor read Heidi's blog and wanted to help Saidati, Uganda does not have the capacity to offer a valve-replacing surgery yet, and she was far down a list of potential candidates for surgery abroad.

Hoping they can run and pass a ball in Heaven, equally fit and free.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Beautifully written.

My family is heavily involved in World Harvest Mission and I, personally, am involved in work in Uganda. Came across your blog. Praying for you and encouraged by your work over here in Chicago.