Luck was on our side

I had just arrived home at lunchtime after working 30 hours and I was settling in for a good sleep. As is often the case in medicine, the phone rang and my heart jumped. Beni Chris was admitted last night for respiratory distress and I knew this was about him.

My nursing colleague from the US, Mary Le, said “come now, Beni Chris is coding”. He had apnea (not breathing) and his heart rate plummeted.

I sprinted to the hospital as quickly as I could and then supervised the resident doctors and medical students in the resuscitation. We got his heart rate elevated and finally his oxygen levels normalized.

I then went to speak with the family. I told them “I do not think we have the equipment to keep your child alive. I recommend that we transfer him to Kigali”. They spoke with multiple family members and friends, and then said “Let’s go”.

At 6PM, we loaded the tiny patient into the back of a SUV and strapped down a large tank of oxygen. For the ride, I held his breathing tube in place and Mary gave him breaths by squeezing the bag. The road was extremely bumpy, so I had to hold the patient close to my body to secure him and the tube. We intermittently gave fluids and medications.

At 11PM, our mood elevated as we pulled into a private hospital in Kigali, Rwanda. We had a relatively uneventful transport and the patient was stable. Then, as we were moving the patient from the car to the hospital bed, the most undesirable event happened. The tube clogged and we could not breathe for him! The saturations and heart rate fell. We rushed him to the fully equipped ICU, and within minutes, we had him re-intubated and stabilized.

I cannot stop thinking about it, but if this would have happened on the road, things would have ended differently.


One Response to “Luck was on our side”

  1. Francisco Acosta Says:

    Good Job, getting to the private hospital!

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