I know it’s not been long since our last posting – but there have been lots of stories lately and we wanted to share another one – full of sadness and joy…
Last month, a young woman, Mina, (18 years old) was brought into the hospital. She had come previously in May because she was becoming so weak in her legs that she was unable to walk. The hospital staff who saw her referred her to a facility with a working ICU (in case she would need a ventilator) about 5 hours from Tansen. Mina’s family didn’t think they could afford this, so they took her back home.
In June, Mina was brought back to the hospital here and was paraplegic, incontinent and had serious bed sores too bad to be managed here. Our pastoral care (social services) team made arrangements for Mina to go to Kathmandu, but the parents again took her home for 6 weeks. When they finally took her to KTM, she was denied admission to the hospital because of severe pneumonia. She was sent to another hospital in KTM where they advised admission into the ICU. The family decided they couldn’t afford that and came back to Tansen.
Mina was brought into the ER and was severely malnourished, short of breath because of a collapsed lung, unable to move her legs, and in pain because of terrible bedsores. The bones were exposed and the surgeons said nothing could be done for her. Many of the doctors were struggling at this point with many questions as this family had no money to pay for care, Mina had only a small chance to continue to live and really no hope to ever walk. Some questions/thoughts were:
- Our charity budget, that some of you have contributed to, is limited. Is it ethical to use a large sum of that money for this one patient, who most likely will not have a good outcome?
- This patient will require intensive nursing care. Is it ethical to admit her so that less nursing care is available to other patients?
- If we admit her to our only isolation room, we will increase the risk to other patients by putting patients with sputum-positive TB in their midst. (In theory these patients wear masks but are not always compliant)
Still struggling with these issues, doctors admitted Mina into the hospital and gave the best care we could offer. It was difficult not to get angry with the family who hadn’t followed medical advice – but they didn’t have money and here there are few if any options to help sick patients without funds. If we had been able to foresee the parent’s concerns, we might have been able to keep Mina with us from the first time they brought her and maybe things might have been different. However, she was put into the isolation room, given morphine, had as much nursing care as we could provide and was given food, emotional and prayer support. These last items are things we can give here that people don’t get elsewhere in Nepal.
Mina continued to worsen in spite of the best efforts of the doctors and nurses. She had to have a chest tube to drain air and pus from her chest. Her decubitus ulcers got worse, she developed an abcess on her arm that required draining and finally pneumonia that didn’t respond to medications.
The family was told that she probably wouldn’t survive, but they decided to leave her in the hospital. (Many people in Nepal leave with patients who are expected to die as it is cheaper to transport a live human being than a dead body. There is also some superstition about dying in a hospital)
Mina died soon after this.
That was all the sad part. Now for the little bit of joy at the end. During the several weeks that Mina stayed at the hospital, she was followed by the pastoral care team who supported her and prayed with her. During this time, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and the head of our pastoral care department conducted a Christian funeral for Mina with the full cooperation of her parents.
So – it is good that we were able to care for Mina for awhile. Although she died young, she is now enjoying life free from pain and with Jesus.
Thank you, God…Thank you, Pastoral Care Team….Thank you to those of you who support Tansen Hospital for people like Mina.