Against all odds: baby Monday’s story
In rural Uganda, Action Against Hunger provides care for the most vulnerable.
Jan 16 2013
Nurses at the Therapeutic Feeding Centre in the Kaabong Referral Hospital call him “the miracle baby.” In the hospital records his name is Monday; the staff name orphaned babies according to the day of the week they are born.
Baby Monday’s mother went into premature labour in Kathile, a tiny village in Karamoja, the arid and sparsely populated region of North Eastern Uganda bordering Sudan.
During childbirth, she had a retained placenta, an easily treatable condition where the placenta is left behind in a woman’s uterus. But because the family had no transportation to the nearest hospital—only 11 miles away—hours were lost while they tried to get help for the ailing mother and baby. Finally, a small truck was rented in Kaabong, but it broke down on the way to the hospital, and Baby Monday’s mother did not survive the journey.
The fact that the infant survived the journey in his grandmother’s arms over the rough and difficult terrain from Kathile to Kaabong is just one of the reasons that have earned him his unlikely nickname.
At birth Baby Monday weighed just three pounds. In the UK, a premature baby would be kept in an incubator for weeks, but there are no incubators at the Kaabong Referral Hospital, nor is there electricity to power a heating lamp that might keep his little body warm. So Baby Monday was wrapped in a bundle of wool blankets and kept in the sun whenever possible to keep his temperature up.”
A real fighter
“This baby is a real fighter,” said Sam Mbuto, Action Against Hunger’s Clinical Officer who manages the hospital’s Therapeutic Feeding Centre. “After two weeks here he began to have vomiting and diarrhea, and we realised he had severe malaria. We put him on a quinine drip and gave him oxygen and, amazingly, he recovered from the malaria and began gaining weight.”
For over two months, Action Against Hunger and the local hospital staff monitored Baby Monday closely and fed him therapeutic milk formula every two hours without fail. Looking after him at all hours was his eight-year-old sister, Nakolong. Being the sole caregiver of a premature infant and waking up several times a night for the feedings would be enough to break most people, let alone an eight-year-old. But Nakalong said she didn’t mind at all.
“My mother died so there is no one else to take care of him,” she said matter-of-factly. “I nurse and feed him all day, give him baths and wash our clothes. When I have time I play with the other children at the hospital. Here we have medicine and food so we have to stay here until my brother is ok.”
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