I think he might die

While working in the United States, I was rarely confronted with a new admission that was critically ill.  Most children would present in the early stage of their disease and a full recovery was virtually guaranteed.

Over the past few months, my perspective has changed. In the developing world, patients frequently arrive with advanced disease and their chances for survival seem doubtful. While working abroad I have uttered the words “I am afraid your child might die” countless times.  

Fortunately, I am sometimes wrong. In East Timor, a one year-old named Nelson arrived in our emergency department late one evening. He had significant respiratory distress and seemed to be tiring. I told his mother “I will do my best to care for him but he is very ill and might die”.

Nelson began improving within the week and was ready for discharge by the end of the second week. Below are the before and after videos.


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