Saturday, March 21, 2009

Remembering Malnutrition

Today I read a blog post, written by a Peace Corps volunteer based in rural Ghana. The meat of the post was about her experience with getting help for a toddler boy dieing of malnutrition. You should definitely click over and read her post. My post will make more sense if you do!

Her post brought up so many thoughts within me. Two of our children have had very real experience with malnutrition/failure to thrive. One needed food. The other needed more than food. He needed true medical intervention. I am praying that the little boy written about in the post mentioned above, only needs food.

When Bright came into orphanage care he was so sick, only because he did not have enough food. He didn't have mother's milk to feed him (she had passed away). And his family's food was too meager to support a baby under 1 year old. They called him "spider baby" because he was all abdomen (kwashiorkor) and skinny limbs (marasmus). But within a few months he was a fat, happy baby steadily coming back from the brink. He's never gone back and so far we don't know of any long-term affects from his malnutrition.
Samren, on the other hand, came to us as a fat, happy baby boy. Biggest in his orphanage! We didn't know it at first, but this was because his "nanny" was also his birth mom. Samren had the benefit of breast milk until the day we picked him up. That breast milk kept him alive. As soon as we were united with Samren his healthy deteriorated. He gained 1/2 a pound in 10 months (from age 5 months to 15 months). At 14 pounds and 15 months old the doctors FINALLY started to listen to us when we said he wasn't just tiny because he was Vietnamese!
Samren was in the U.S. when his sickness hit. We had access to IV to keep him hydrated. We had access to a feeding tube when he wouldn't eat. And when his little body could not even handle a single protein, we had access to amino acid-based (pre-digested) formula that saved his life. We didn't have the best doctors in Tulsa to care for him. But we found one 12 hours away that was world-renown. We could drive 12 hours and see a doctor who knew what was going on with our son and helped him to thrive despite the disease eating away at his body! [Eventually, the Lord healed Samren. He is our miracle boy.]
If Samren would have stayed in the developing world, he wouldn't be here. He needed more than food. He would have been one of those babies that make up the numbers in the 0-5 mortality rate. It looks like Samren may have some learning disabilities that could be related to the malnutrition he went through. But it could have been so much worse! We have him... we have him.

Our kiddo #4 is from Northern Ghana, not far (at all!) from where the baby Yakim is from. She was a tiny little thing when she came into care at Eban House. 15 pounds at 17 months old. She had lost all of her hair due to malnutrition. She couldn't stand without assistance, and couldn't walk. Thankfully, like Bright, she just needed love and a good diet to rebound into the walking, talking, spitfire 21 month old she is today! I have no doubt that she's pushing 20 pounds now. She has beaten the odds. Three of our kids have beaten the odds. But it doesn't make me forget about all of those babies and young children who aren't going to.


Salzwedel Family 9:21 AM  

We are SO BLESSED! Thanks for sharing Yakim's story and praise God for your sons healing.

Amy 12:25 PM  

Important reminders about these very important people. Thanks for making sure we always remember.

Love you,

Laurel 9:16 PM  

Thanks for sharing Kimmie's story and blog. She has much to share.


Nikki 11:35 AM  

Wow... amazing post. And a HUGE congrats on adopting #4- so exciting!!