One short update since my last post: PNG is seeing a second wave of Covid infections sweep through the country. This wave came on faster and has already been more devastating. We have had to temporarily close our outpatient department and close to patients from outside of our province due to staff shortages. Oxygen is in short supply, and we are praying the outbreak does not worsen.
The last few weeks I have been rounding in the nursery. We have several sets of premature twins as well as some other babies that need extra help adjusting to life outside the womb. I have found life and joy in caring for these babies every morning, although there have also been moments of sadness and fear. Every morning as I wash my hands before starting rounds, I check to make sure each warmer is still filled. Life for these little ones can seem so tenuous, although some hang on with far greater vivacity than I would have thought possible.
Each day I’ve found myself praying for these little ones and their mothers. Some of these mothers wait for months for their babies to be big enough to finally go home. This can be a huge stress for those with other children at home.
Please join me in praying for these mothers and babies.
In clinic a couple weeks ago I met Bapo, a one-and-a-half-year-old whose mother was concerned because he wasn’t walking and had a chronic cough that hadn’t responded to multiple courses of antibiotics. Concerned about tuberculosis, I obtained a chest xray (below).
Noting Bapo’s large heart, I took him to the ultrasound room. As I was looking at Bapo’s heart, I noticed that one of the walls of his heart looked thin. I added color flow (to see movement of blood) and noticed that blood was flowing a direction it should not have been. I called Dr Susan, our local expert, and she confirmed with me that Bapo had a VSD (a hole between two chambers of his heart).
Before Covid, a team of Australian doctors would come once a year to perform cardiac surgery for congenital abnormalities. They have not been able to come for a couple of years now, but we are hoping that they will return soon for children like Bapo.
Our team of doctors here has been reading a book called Promises in the Dark by Eric McLaughlin for our Friday morning meetings. This last week the chapter was about God’s promise to make all things new. The author writes, “Goodness peeks through here and there, now and then. New creation glimmers like a pinprick of light in a black curtain. Even on the worst days, I think I can say that’s true.”
In the midst of difficulties, with Covid stacked onto the enormous burdens already present for people here in PNG, I’m focusing on the glimmers of new life. There is joy and promise in seeing a tiny baby gain weight or no longer require oxygen. Amidst the darkness and heaviness, God is still in His work of making all things new.