Friday, December 16, 2011

Baby Taina

Taina is an 11 month old from my ravine. I met her shortly after birth, but I only truly remember her from this October. Her mom stopped me because Taina had diarrhea and I almost had a heart attack - the baby looked like death! Her fontanel was a deep depression on the top of her head and her eyes were sunken far into her face.

Taina survived that episode, but not as well as I would have liked. Two months later, she still has a depressed fontanel and her eyes always have that sunken sickly look. She isn't crawling yet and she doesn't laugh. I have theories about malnourished babies and lack of laughter is one of the symptoms I always look for. I don't care how tiny your child is; if she's laughing, I'm not terribly worried about her. But the child that is skinny, lethargic and not smiling...

With her mother and father's approval, I moved Taina to Dorothy's house this week. Sometimes parents seem eager to give their child away, but I was gratified to see Taina's parents truly sad to leave her behind. A few days later when I visited the ravine, they were waiting for me at the beginning of my route to ask how she's doing.

She's doing well. Her starting weight was 15.5 lbs, the average weight of a 6 month old, but I've seen a million times worse here in Haiti. I took her out for bloodwork on Wednesday and everything came back negative: tuberculosis, syphilis, HIV. She is anemic - no surprise there. Every Haitian, child or adult, that I've ever taken for bloodwork comes back anemic! So with all the big threats ruled out, we can assume that she is a case of failure to thrive. And Dorothy's is the perfect place for her. I've seen those nannies work wonders on sad-looking malnourished babies and I'm excited to see them work their magic on Taina!

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