Thursday, December 01, 2005

We have a dying boy in our hotel room.

Jackson Jean-Baptiste is sitting in a chaise lounge in front of our television, dozing and watching a French documentary about bears. He came at 8 this morning. His mother and his sister had to carry him down the mountain on a chair, and then they rode 3 tap taps to get here. Jackson can barely walk and needs help getting out of a chair. We were so alarmed by the state of his health, we told his mother and sister to leave him with us.

Jackson is in congestive heart failure. His abdomen, legs, and feet are all swollen with fluid his body cannot get rid of. More ominously, his lungs are water-filled also, making it difficult for him to breathe. John has been giving him mega doses of furosimide, a heavy duty diuretic to help his body get rid of fluid. The problem is, because of Jackson's reduced bloodflow, his body isn't absorbing the diuretic and he's not getting rid of much water. He is going to spend the night with us, and we will figure out our next step tomorrow. Jackson is reclining in one of the pool side chairs we dragged down to our room as he cannot lie down flat and still breathe.

Jackson has been to Peoria twice to have his aortic and mitral heart valves repaired. These valves were damaged by rheumatic fever. He has been back in Haiti for a couple of years. This past spring, John examined Jackson and had concerns, which caused him to send Jackson for an echocardiogram in Port-au-Prince. This scan revealed that Jackson's mitral valve was malfunctioning and that he needs more surgery, most likely a valve replacement. On multiple occasions, including as recently as this morning, we have offered OSF St. Francis Medical Center $10,000 to accept Jackson, their former patient for a valve replacement but they have either refused or not responded. We are praying they will change their minds.

Now, our primary concern is keeping Jackson alive. He is a very sick young man and has probably been critically ill for several weeks. It is a helpless feeling having him in our room, but we are doing what we can. Jackson needs help.

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