We received a call about 12 days ago from the cardiologist in Haiti asking us to bring Wadagens to a hospital in Petion-ville. We learned that a team of French doctors were coming to Haiti to do open heart surgery. This was the first French team but we learned that it was the 6th Heart team to do open heart surgery in Petion-ville! I was so surprised to hear this, but they have all of the equipment at this hospital and had been doing surgeries for quite some time.
We needed 4 people to go give blood. They would not even consider him for surgery until we had 2 units of blood ready for him. In Haiti, we have to take 4 people to give blood for them to give us 2 units of blood.
Wadagens had a hole between his ventricles and according to the echocardiogram, he had a stenosis of his pulmonary valve. He only weighed 10 Kg (22 lbs) and he was the smallest heart patient done in Haiti. At first, they said they would not do surgery because of his size, but then the surgeon chose him because his operation was supposed to be fairly easy.
Wadagens has had several severe episodes of respiratory problems since he’s been at GLA. He was an abandoned child and I’m sure that he was abandoned because of his fragile health issues. This surgery was an answer to prayer because we could not easily get a passport for Wadagens to get the surgery outside of Haiti because he was abandoned.
When the doctors did his surgery, they later told us that he would not have lived to see 4 if no surgery was done. His heart was enlarged, the ventricle was quite large and thick and he did not have a pulmonary valve! They constructed a valve for him in the operating room, thinned down his ventricle and closed the hole he had between his ventricles.
They kept him in the hospital 4 days because he was very congested after surgery and his ventricle was “lazy” and not beating quite as efficiently as they would have liked. But by the 4th day, Wadagens was ready to come home!
When we returned on Saturday to see the doctors and have an echocardiogram done, Wadagens was walking all over the place! The doctors and nurses were so pleased with his progress. He still had a very loose cough, but was doing great!
Our nurses, Rebecca Udermann and Britany Smith, were with Wadagens every step of the way. They took turns staying with him after surgery and he had been sleeping in their room since he came home. In fact, we were talking about putting him back in the nursery after the weekend because he was doing so well!
Today his 8th post operative day, he and Frantina were so cute as she held his hand and took him around the office. I guess he ate a very good lunch. His cough had changed during the night from loose to very tight which concerned us a little bit.
Today, our pediatrician was here and went over to see him and thought he looked very good but felt he needed a different medication to help with his cough and breathing. As she’s telling me this, Rebecca comes running in and Wadagens had fainted in his crib.
Shortly after coming into the house, he stopped breathing. We breathed for him for a short time and he started breathing again, but never woke up really. Everyone worked for 1 hour and 45 minutes trying to save him. Losing him was not acceptable to any of us!
As a nurse, it affects you when you lose someone you have been taking care of in the hospital, but not quite like in the orphanage, because YOU are the mother of these children. They are yours. We stand in the place of their mamas to be there to kiss them when they fall down, hug them when they need assurance or just a little bit of love, and to keep ourselves between them and danger. So when we lose a child at the orphanage, we grieve like a mother, because we ARE their mamas. Even if it’s just for a short time, our role is as their ‘MOM”.
So tonight, our hearts are breaking just a little bit. There is a coffin with a beautiful little boy in it a short distance from me right now. We had a nice little service for him tonight with most of the staff here. His life deserved that recognition from all us tonight and we were able to share our thoughts and our grief for Wadagens.
Tomorrow, we will dust ourselves off and go on and work our butts off to save the next sick child, but there will be a spot in our hearts forever for a child who liked to make funny faces and tonight is truly an Angel in the arms of God!
Posted on Wed, December 19, 2012