THEY SAID IT WAS “ASRAM”

One beautiful Saturday morning, a beautiful baby girl was born to the Nyarko’s. “We were so excited about her arrival, mother recounted.

Our rough ride started the night we sent the baby home. Baby developed a fever. My mum woke me up and asked me to breast feed the baby. The next day she started having issues with her breathing so we informed one of our church stewards. They said it was “Asram”. I was very worried. What could be happening to my little girl I asked?

Asram, refers non-specific terminology of childhood diseases that afflicts kids. There are several types of ‘asram” denoting different kinds of diseases from bacterial skin infection, TB, fits to severe malnutrition and failure to thrive. Many have died because the proper medical treatment was not sought on time or at all due to mis-characterisation. In fact all asram are treatable with the appropriate interventions in the hospital.

We sent the baby to a nearby hospital where she was assessed and the doctor referred us to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. Then I knew that was the end. I felt very miserable because as a nurse I had escorted cases to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and “most” of them didn’t make it.

I knew I was doomed because I was going to lose my only Child. But why should this happen to me. I lost all hope and faith in God. I could not pray any longer. For several reasons patients have erroneously assumed that referral to the big hospital means death sentence.

At Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, they discovered my child had a right congenital diaphragmatic hernia – hmm a long worded I know but in simple terms, but it means there is a big hole in the organ separating her contents of the chest cavity from that of the abdomen during formation in the womb. Hence some abdominal organs are moves into the chest which is not supposed to be the case. It usually causes abnormal lung development. This leaves the baby with breathing difficulty.

The scan taken showed that her liver and a large portion of her intestine had moved into her right chest, preventing the lung on that side to develop poorly. My little baby girl was basically surviving with just one lung. We were told surgery was our only option, and my heart sank. Hmm…. I kept on thinking how surgery could be performed on such a tiny baby. I was a little perturbed I must confess.😰

The next couple of days passed by in a flurry of tests and reviews by specialists who all confirmed what had already been said. To make matters worse my baby developed a pneumonia, she had become very weak and was not crying as she used to. I had to give consent for her to be put on life support. Yes, life support. I would have liked to say I never lost hope. That I was strong for my little girl throughout but it is at this point I broke down😓🤕.

I had never known anyone alive who was once on life support. It was for me a death warrant. She was being fed by a tube and had to be kept unconscious. I had lost all hope I was going to have my baby back.

The day of the surgery came and I was more anxious than I had ever been in my life. After five very long hours I was informed the surgery was a success… for my baby to make she had to survive the long recovery which was not assured.

Slowly and painfully she came out from anaesthesia and eventually was taken off the ventilator after 9 days. Breathing on her own with her new fixed defective abdominal wall. And for the first time in what seemed to be an eternity, I was able to hold her in my arms🤱🏾

😍🥰I’m really grateful to God, the PICU, Paediatric Surgery and MBU Teams. I felt at home on your ward. I appreciate every effort you made in getting my baby back. I actually thought my baby wouldn’t make it, especially the day she was being sent to theatre. A crowd stood outside shaking their heads, implying that all was lost. But thanks be to God who worked through these doctors and nurses! “

Story by Dr Gracelyn Asare, narrated by mother.
Published with parental permission.

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