Saturday, May 22, 2010

Namina's story...

Three and a half year old Namina and her mother arrived at the Mercy Ships outpatient clinic for children on January 21, 2009 after being referred from the Lungi Government Hospital following a one month admission there. She had been referred to the Mercy Ships clinic for surgical reconstruction of her face.

Namina had been inflicted with a devastating disease known as “cancrum oris” or “noma”. This disease is rightly referred to as the “face of poverty”, affecting the poorest of the poor. At the age of 3 ½ years, Namina weighed only 10 kilograms; her malnutrition making her more susceptible to infection. It started as a small lesion in her mouth but soon spread and turned into a gangrenous flesh eating disease causing massive destruction of her facial tissues. With a high mortality rate, few people survive. Yet Namina was a survivor, but it left her face disfigured.

The initial thought was to send her back to Lungi because this was not a condition that could be treated in the clinic; reconstructive surgery was not available. However, within minutes this little girl captured the hearts of those working in the clinic. The doctor went ahead and examined Namina to see the extent of the damage. It was bad. Sure enough there was a gaping hole in the left side of her face. It was a hideous sight. It was heartbreaking. However, Namina had already proved she was a fighter. She had survived the intial infection and it was now our job to make sure she continued to improve. Not only did she have a disfigured face, she also suffered from malnutrition and malaria. Immediately, the staff provided the necessary medications and nutritional support needed, as well as the wound care that was required. It was obvious that it would take months for the wound to heal enough so that reconstructive surgery could be considered. The follow-up was intense.

For weeks Namina and her mother came to the clinic for wound care; in the beginning as often as three to four times a week. The wound care was often a painful process in which the wound was thoroughly flushed and cleaned with saline solution and then dressed with sterile gauze. This often brought tears to Namina’s eyes, but once the dressing change was over, she was ready to play again and always looked forward to choosing a toy from the toy box. Nutritional support was given to Namina in the form of a high protein drink and as time went by, progress could be seen. Not only was the wound starting to heal, but Namina was becoming stronger and healthier.

After five months, Namina has turned into a vibrant little girl. She still has a small hole in the left side of her face, but it has healed considerably. Namina is happy. And both her mother and the staff of the outpatient clinic are very pleased with the results. It is now time to move on to the next step and look into possibilities for reconstructive surgery. The process is not over yet, but Namina has come a long way.

Other posts related to Namina can be found here and here.

Permission from Namina's mother was given for the publishing of her story.

No comments:

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~