News: Miracle at MEDRETE
Story by Sgt. Lindsey Schulte
BARAHONA, Dominican Republic - A Dominican baby lays limp in the arms of Canadian army Capt. Shane A. Smith, a doctor with the Canadian Forces Health Center Atlantic out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as he walked into the pediatric room of the Medical Readiness Training Exercise clinic at Escuela Inicial y Basica Batey Cinco, May 21.
He quickly laid the infant before U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jack C. Leong, a pediatric doctor from Chicago, with the 801st Combat Support Hospital out of Fort Sheridan, Illinois in the MEDRETE here as part of the Beyond the Horizon 2014 mission to build schools and medical clinics while providing medical care for the local residents of Barahona.
“The child was completely unresponsive,” said Leong.
The dire situation caught in their eyes but they questioned the aunt calmly in Spanish and French, trying to deduce the child's symptoms before the baby had fallen unconscious.
“Two doctors worked together and the two languages worked together,” said Leong.
Somewhere between the two doctors bilingual talents of Spanish and French, they uncovered the source of the infant's illness. Three simple and treatable ailments had compounded so drastically within the tiny body that it left the baby in a critical state.
“He had a fever, double ear infection, and severe dehydration,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Isavelita V. Goodearly, registered nurse for the pediatric room here, with the 352nd CSH Bravo Company out of Camp Parks in Dublin, Calif.
“We were afraid the baby might die within our care due to dehydration, because around the world children still die of dehydration. Something as simple as that, they still die from it. We were afraid this one was going to be one of them,” said Leong.
They believed the child required immediate hospitalization to survive.
“We called for assistance, we called for possibly a ride or an ambulance because the person caring for the baby did not have transportation. All the teams and leadership got together and were working on the transportation for us. That's going beyond what was our original intention of being there,” said Leong.
CitiHope, the nongovernmental organization partners in the MEDRETE, were prepared to transport the child in their vehicle. In the midst of conferring with president of CitiHope Dominicana, Timothy R. Tuccelli, the doctors treated the infant, determined to give the child a chance.
“As they were preparing transportation we kept hydrating the child. He kept responding more and more,” said Leong.
The little boy's cry broke through the somber room and spread smiles upon every face.
“That's a good sign,” said Smith with relief in his voice.
Soon the little boy's eyes were open, and he wrapped his tiny hands around the syringe used to feed him the electrolyte solution that had revived him.
“We were lucky because when we attempted rehydration, the child revived very quickly although the child was completely unresponsive when I was examining the ears,” said Leong.
The aunt took the child into her arms again and listened attentively as Smith prescribed the antibiotics she would have to administer to cure the child.
There may be nothing more beautiful than the life of a child. Because of the MEDRETE available here, that beautiful life was not lost.