Children….

I’m writing this because I read yesterday of the 150 children kidnapped from a school in Nigeria. This is one of many such attacks with about 1,000 children in all being taken since December last year. Some, a minority, have been released. That is mind-boggling and I’m surprised that that it doesn’t provoke international ire and offered help to the Nigerian Government for help. Such help may of course have been offered and rejected. Some of the pictures I have seen from before indicate that some taken were Muslims. The latest school attacked was the Bethel Baptist School.

In Australia as doctors we have to be very careful. It is difficult for medical students to get into watch a child being examined without parental or guardian permission. As a doctor I am not allowed into an operating room without special registration with each individual hospital, even with adults being operated on. This is a long way away from the old system where operating rooms had mezzanine floors built so that many students and other doctors could watch and learn.

It reminded me of a medical student from Australia visiting us in Ethiopia for an elective term, who told me that I dare not treat children with the affection that I did there, if I was in Australia.

This boy had been run over by a cotton picking machine and had massive injuries from his pelvis down. It took my hat on his head to get a smile out of him. It was a weak smile but took weeks to achieve!
Months later when we got him standing with help, I got a real smile! He had about 20 operations.
Sometimes it took my glasses to get any attention

You can see that this poor kid has lost an arm. We had at least one case a week of cases like this. This occurred rarely because of an accident but ususlly because with a fracture (I guess we could call that an accident!) but that had been badly managed by a local healer who bound the limb, leg or arm so tightly that it caused gangrene.

This young guy had been kept at home until his leg dropped off. You can see how flexed his hip is. He was so weak that we had train him to stand up again, initially by holding him. We did make wooden legs initially and later there were prosthetic limbs available.

This is one such limb made in Arba Minch for a teenager who was so ill when he came in with a gangrenous leg and septic shock that even after initial resuscitation he had 2 cardiac arrests on the operating table. He did well and the last I saw him was attending school supported by an Australia who visited us and met him. There is a lot more to the story than I have told here, as you can guess!

You can see the scar on this boy’s head. He was in ICU and with a very low GCS (a count of severity of head injury) and the nursing staff wanted to put him in the ward as they were sure that he would die. I resisted and although he had a few problems (he was nearly blind), he survived and he loved me and would come running to me whenever he heard my steps. Should I have held him and tickled him? His dad was so happy that he lived!

I may show a copy of some gross pictures of suffering in my medical memoirs blog but here sufficient to say that I treated a thousand or more kids and they all needed medical, emotional and often physical loving. My heart bleeds for those taken in Nigeria and their families, but this is a worldwide problem. Let’s give all the help we can!

Dominic Cartier.

3 thoughts on “Children….

  1. The problem is huge numerically. The hold of the national healer is strong. But yes the government is making an attempt to deal with this. Remember transport is not readily available. It is an immediate emergency and if a hospital is say 3 days away then temporary tightly applied relief will cause gangrene within those 3 days.

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