Isatu's Story

Isatu* is 5 years old. Her mother had brought her into the clinic at TSH. She was lying on the bed, feverish, weak and lethargic. She lived with her mother at Grafton Camp, formally a camp for displaced people during the war. Her mother was divorced, sadly Isatu’s father was not interested in his child.

For over a year Isatu had been suffering from chronic health problems. Her mother had taken her to many of the local clinics, paying for tests and treatment, none of which had seemed to help. She had even paid for prayers at the local church, now her money had run out. Fortunately, another Shepherd’s Hospice patient had told her to come for help.

Isatu was malnourished, she had a swollen infected eye and pus drained out of one ear. She wouldn’t speak and complained of pain in her throat on eating. The lymph nodes in her neck were enlarged, as was her liver. On examination she had reduced air intake into her lungs. Both of her feet were odematus. It was clear that she was acutely unwell and needed to be examined by a paediatrician. We were concerned that her chronic health problems maybe due to an underlying HIV infection, although her mother appeared well.

We took Isatu and her mother to the local children’s hospital. On examination the Doctor decided to admit her but was concerned as to who would pay the bill? The patient support fund (PSF) was able to cover the consultation fee (£5) and laboratory fees (£2).

Two days later we returned to find Isatu much improved, sitting up and able to reply to our greeting ‘Kushe’. She was smiling broadly. The laboratory tests had shown that she was anaemic but her HIV test was negative. The Doctor was concerned that she might have an underlying cardiac problem, could he order a chest x-ray? Once again the PSF was able to cover the (£5) fee.

The chest x-ray revealed that she was suffering from pulmonary TB. She was commenced on treatment (free) and moved into the nutritional unit attached to the hospital. She would remain there for one month whilst she received intensive nutritional therapy and took her TB drugs. We left knowing that she would be well cared for.

Five weeks later we visit Isatu in the camp. She is running around with her friends, giggling with delight. The transformation in her is amazing. Her mother thanks us, Isatu has started to talk again. She will need to continue on her TB drugs but she should make a full recovery.

*Patient's name has been changed

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