While I was at the Children's hospital this afternoon a colleague of mine told me that she has been helping a 2 month old in the Emergency Room. The child's condition was not good and it was decided that the child should go to the intensive care. I believe this is the 3rd day of admission.
My colleague was distraught. Only minutes before seeing me, the mother decided to discharge the child against medical advice and left the hospital with the child. Without oxygen, the child's saturation levels were only 50%. This child is unlikely to survive without proper medical care. My colleague told the mother that the child will die if she takes the child out of the hospital. "Bye bye child" is what my colleague said to me. The mother did not seem to care. It seemed as though the mother no longer wanted the child and this was the easiest solution for her.
This is a sad but true story. And unfortunately we see a number of discharges against medical advice every week. Why is it that people decide to leave the hospital, especially when told that there is a big chance their child will die. I suppose some of it is lack of faith in the medical system, a strong belief in traditional medicine, other commitments at home, pressure from the family. So many reasons why it is not convenient to stay in the hospital with your sick child. But what about the child? What about the child's rights? What about child protection? For this child, it would almost have been better for the mother to just walk out and leave the child. But do we want to encourage that? What happens to the children that are abandoned in the hospital? It's often difficult to find a home for them.
This is a dilemma, and right now I don't have any answers. I'm praying that somehow God will intervene in this situation. And I'm hoping my colleague will be encouraged, since she put a lot of energy into this family over the past few days.