I want to be a hero, but I can’t

Today, I was called to the bedside of an infant who was vomiting blood. A man nearby looked stressed and worried. I asked him, “Are you the father?”

“Yes”, he replied.

I then inquired, “Where is the mother?”

“She died last night while giving birth”, he whispered.

As I comforted him, I looked down at his child. She was pale and irregularly gasping for air. In the Congo, I would have immediately placed a breathing tube, pumped blood and fluids into her, and started antibiotics. But this is Haiti. If I tried heroic measures to keep the child alive, no nurse or doctor would care for the other 37 children and they would suffer or die.

As I gently held his hand, I said, “Your child is going to die……There is nothing we can do to save her. I’m so sorry.”

Within minutes, she died.

The father’s despair permeated the room. As he quietly left the building and walked home alone, a flood of nausea rushed through my body. I set my stethoscope down and I ran to an empty room.

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2 Responses to “I want to be a hero, but I can’t”

  1. Tim Z Falconer Says:

    Chris, I feel for you, and for the child’s father, the mother’s husband. Thank you again for your excellent, straight-forward writing. I have not seen anyone else write like you do. You are a hero. You’re hero. Keep heart. I’m glad Lisa is there to support you.

  2. Shilpa Says:

    Chris, I don’t get it, why would caring for one child prevent people from caring for all the others?

    Shilpa

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