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A Surprising Elixir: Hands in Ghana Series

July 13, 2017
by Sheila Leech

Sheila Leech, Vice President of International Healthcare for Reach Beyond and a team leader for the 2017 Ghana medical internship, shares a series of stories from the experiences there. This is one of them.

The boy lying on the bench was more than lethargic- he was almost unconscious. His anxious grandmother had practically dragged him to the clinic that morning. Unable to keep even water down, Kwesi was dehydrated, spiking a high fever and seemed to struggle to sit upright. The triage team "fast tracked" him through the system and before long he was being seen by the doctor.

In rural Ghana it's estimated that children may experience up to 15 episodes of malaria per year. Many times malaria presents in strange forms not normally found in textbooks. In the region where the Reach Beyond team were working, vomiting and stomach pain seemed to be common symptoms with a malaria diagnosis. Although malaria is a deadly and debilitating disease, if caught early, treatment is swift and efficient and patients make a remarkable recovery.

After he managed to keep his malaria medicine down ( on the second attempt), and a good dose of Tylenol, Kwesi should have rallied quickly, but he remained "flat". The doctors were concerned about his dehydration and decided that he could not go home unless he could drink and keep fluids down, otherwise he would need to go to hospital for intravenous fluids. We prayed with him asking God to intervene for Kwesi.

| Our calling is to relieve suffering...

Try as she might, Kwesi's grandmother could not get him to sit up and drink the oral rehydration fluids that had been prepared. Kristen, one of the interns, patiently sat close coaxing Kwesi to take small sips, but he did not like the taste and would not drink it. Eventually, someone suggested giving Kwesi a soda. The sugar would make it more appetizing and the electrolytes would be good for him.

Children are children everywhere. From the streets of New York, to the green depths of the Ghanaian forest. Children dressed in western chic or children dressed in rags. They are all the same. They all love sodas. Kwesi gulped down the soda so quickly, it was hard to prevent him chugging the lot in one. Within an hour, he was up and runninmg around, demanding food and snacking on peanuts. His fever was gone!

Resilience is built into our bodies. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

As we travelled back to our base that night we speculated on what would have happened had we not been in the village that day. What would Kwesi's fate have been?

Our calling is to relieve suffering and I am so glad that God used our team to relieve Kwesi's suffering that day.