Marie Kencia's Surgery Update

Marie Kencia had spent the last 5-6 months at home with her family following her cleft lip surgery. Her mother brought her back to GLA in order to have her cleft palate repaired too. Marie Kencia was first on the list for Saturday’s surgeries with the LEAP Foundation. The cleft palate surgery is a more complicated operation with a longer recovery period. Due to its complexity, Marie Kencia had to stop eating/drinking for a longer period beforehand. She was in a fairly good mood when we woke her up early that morning, however, entertaining her before the surgical team arrived proved to be a more difficult challenge. Marie Kencia recently learned how to walk independently, however she is not the steadiest on her feet, especially when walking in fancy sandals. As long as we gave Marie Kencia the freedom to walk around she was happy. She would watch the fans on the ceiling and mimic them, spinning in wobbly circles, often landing on the floor and giggling in delight.

After the team arrived she was brought to the pre-op room to check her vital signs and bloodwork before surgery. Once everything was given the okay the anaesthetist carried her to the operating room. The surgery took just over three hours and then she was taken to the post anaesthesia care unit (PACU). She was very groggy and slept the entire time. The anaesthetist was happy with the slow waking as crying after a palate surgery often results in poor clotting and thus a lot of bleeding. In the meantime, surgeries were continuing to finish and the PACU was filling up so they decided to move us to the room where we would be spending the night. Marie Kencia’s IV was left in place to make sure she could get some fluids before she woke up. Unfortunately, by the time we were settled in the IV had come out which meant we would have to ensure she was taking at least a little by mouth. We were given antibiotics and pain medication to give her as well as a syringe to try to feed her. Every time Miss Irlande (one of our Haitian nurses) and I had to give her anything by mouth, it was a struggle. One of us would have to hold her still while the other one squirted her medication or formula into her mouth, being extra careful not to touch the roof of her mouth.

As the day went on, the four other cribs in our small hot room were filled with children requiring observation overnight. Ironically, none of the local hospital staff ever came to check on us. The LEAP Foundation team would come throughout the day to see how we were doing. They brought in candy, clothes, water, food, toothbrushes, and anything else they felt would make the family members feel at home. That night there were 10 adults and 5 children in that room. Many of us climbed into the cribs with the kids if they were small enough. Others brought in bench cushions from the waiting room chairs and made beds on the floor while others slept in a few chairs that were provided. Seeing as none of us expected to get a lot of sleep, some of the parents/caregivers listened to the radio on their phones, music, or simply sang out loud. Needless to say it was a long night for all of us. Marie Kencia fought against the medication we were required to give her throughout the night, although she would usually sleep for about two hours after it kicked in. She wasn’t interested in drinking anything either.

In the morning, one family packed up their young boy and headed out, catching a ride on a Tap-Tap (a local form of transportation where several people pile into the back of a truck). Another family had a 6 hour bus ride to get home. Thankfully, our ride was just a short phone call away. Marie Kencia decided she was thirsty enough that next morning to drink and we were able to give her a few ounces with a cup. Swallowing after surgery on her palate required her to learn how to swallow differently. After we knew she could take fluids by mouth and checking for the absence of a fever, we were given the ok to go. One of the nurses gave Marie Kencia a balloon which had her smiling before we even stepped out the door. We stopped in to say goodbye to some of the nurses who took such good care of use and then headed out.

In just a few short days, Marie Kencia has made wonderful progress. She is required to eat pureed food for three weeks and cup feed any fluids which she is managing quite well. She has a playful curiosity that you can see when you look into her eyes. Please continue to pray for her over the next few weeks. We also haven’t heard from her parents since the day they dropped her off last Tuesday. Pray that God would give them the desire and courage to come and see her and prepare to take her home.

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