Where is the Miracle?

This was the question I found myself asking God after I cared for a very sick 16 year old girl last month. She was severely anemic and dehydrated and needed IV access to be done under ultrasound. Shortly after this due to her condition and before my eyes she arrested and remained without a pulse for 5 minutes as my medical students and I administered CPR.

What I didn't know at the time was that this girl's mother had 7 children of which 5 had already died. CPR unfortunately, is not like on TV where patients wake up and take a big breath and thank you for saving their life. That said, if you can catch someone shortly after their heart stops, and keep blood circulating to their brain they have a better chance of survival even if that chance is still small. I felt this girl warranted an effort even though we have minimal capacity to support her post-arrest.

After 5 minutes of compressions and correcting the factors we could correct, I was surprised to get her pulse back.

We kept her alive for 8 hours after that but she eventually passed away. Our hospital does not have the ability to administer vasopressors or mechanical ventilation. We prayed with the mother at the bedside and her mother told me that children are a blessing from God who has the power to give but also to take away. She was grateful we had done so much for her daughter.

I felt a bit sick to myself knowing what could have been done for her in Canada. I have thought much about this girl and wondered where was God during this process. The 6th of 7 children to have died. Recovery post CPR! 

Where was the miracle? 

It was the perfect scenario (at least in my mind). And yet, I am reminded that if God is God and He is good, I can trust that He has what’s best at heart. When He sent His son, into our suffering world, He was thinking about the long game. He knew we would all eventually die and His plan was that death would not be the final event.

“Even thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” 
Psalm 23

It will only be a shadow!

As I shed some tears in the shower that night, I couldn’t help but think of what had been accomplished. We had successfully resuscitated someone and kept them comfortable and alive post-arrest for 8 hours in rural Burundi. My students learned how to run a code, how to protect an airway and how to perform lifesaving manoeuvres. They learned valuable skills that will hopefully help save others. At the same time we were able to demonstrate the value of life to a watching mother. 

Thank you to everyone who helped get 10 new oxygen saturation monitors to us as shown above. These devices will significantly help provide care for patients like this.