Yesterday, June 4, I got to work as usual at 6:45am just in time for the morning hand-over. I joined the group of care-workers who explain to the day staff everything that is going on with each of our 24 patients. About half way through, I heard a cry. I knew it must be a very new patient, as there were no babies around when I left the day before at 4pm. One of the care-workers walked over to fetch the crying baby and I went over to have a peek. I could not believe my eyes. The baby, Siyamukela, was a 16 month old baby who was the size of a 5 (or so) month old baby. He was emaciated beyond belief, whimpering constantly in pain, and severely dehydrated. The baby had not eaten in quite a long time and was only drinking glucose. Mom brought the baby to us after they'd been recently discharged from a local government hospital.
Maryann and I got paperwork together and I then gave him a bath. The pain this baby was in was absolutely excruciating to watch. After a bath, I drove the Mom and the baby up to the clinic to see the pediatrician. After hours of waiting to see the doctor, we finally were told that Mom could start taking the ARV classes next Monday and they'd re-assess the baby then. Can you believe that? This poor baby is dying and we are told to "wait a little longer." I can't even begin to describe the frustration and sadness I feel for the Zulu people that are pushed aside, ignored, and made to "wait" by the very system that they turn to in their time of need.
We brought this poor, miserable baby back to the Respite Unit. I gave the baby another bath and then fed him glucose through a syringe. I could not bear to put this little guy down. At the same time, I felt completely helpless. I held him tight and walked him around until he finally fell asleep. I sat in a chair just staring at him and hugging him tight for the whole afternoon.
I went out after work and bought a few new outfits for Siya because we didn't have anything that would fit his tiny body. I walked in to work this morning and was told that Siya had passed away a few hours earlier. Words cannot express the sadness I feel about the loss of this innocent little boy.