An unusual occurrence, fortunately

As I was doing a home visit in a rural mountainous area on one of my former patients today, I noticed an infant laying on a seat with his chest down and his behind in the air. At first he appeared to be sleeping, but on a closer look, his eyes were wide open.

When I asked a few questions, I discovered he was not an infant but more than two years old and he “has been sick for a long time”.

I partially undressed him and found a severely malnourished child with terrible skin breakdown.

The grandfather was nearby and I said, “This child is very sick and will die if you do not get treatment quickly.”

Unbelievably, he erupted in laughter. He then spoke words I have never heard and hope to never hear again. He said, “I hope you are right. We have been hoping he would die for a while. Then he will stop crying and eating our food.”

My interpreter confirmed twice that was what he said.

I gave him a look of disdain. Everyone in the room could sense that I was disgusted.

I then ignored the grandfather and spoke with the mother. I said, “This child could easily survive with proper treatment. I will give you money for the hospitalization. If you do not use the money for the treatment, you will be killing him.”

She started crying and said she would get help. I hope she does.

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