Lutheran Hospital in Madagascar

Dear Friends,

The internet is slow today and posting on the alwaysmercy site is laborious, so I will send this email the old fashioned way. photos to come later when internet is better.

Love and always mercy,


I am sitting on a little balcony off my hotel room, overlooking the parking lot and the swimming pool. I can't actually see the pool because of a high wall, but I have swam in it a couple of times—it is clean and nice. To my left (across from the gate and high concrete wall with razor wire,) are houses. Most houses here are two stories high. One particular house is an old white concrete house, and at night, the people sit in their windows or lean out on the porch railings and watch the world go by on the little red dirt street below. I often wonder what they think about this hotel. It hasn't been here too long–is it an invasion of their peace? Is it something for them to look at and pass the time watching the comings and goings of people?


Next to this house is a large field of tall grace or rice. The other day three little boys were playing there with long sticks that looked like fishing poles. They must have spent hours there. Remember those childhood days of playing for hour upon hour, not even wanting to come home for dinner?


Friday, March 1, was my first day “working” at the Lutheran hospital in Antsirabe. I was dropped off at the hospital in the morning around 8:00. Saholy called Dr. Harrison to let him know I had arrived. Saholy, Fred and Dr. Just let for the seminary. I waited outside for an hour, figuring Dr. Harrison was busy. Finally he comes up the walk and says, "I've been looking for you forever…" yikes. I made my apologies and said that I had been out front the whole time.  He was trying to find a place for me (meaning, with a nurse who spoke English), had me change into scrubs, and I feared he was going to put me in surgery with him (near fainting episodes from my first trip to Sudan played through my head). He considered having me help in the injection center, but since the nurse there didn't speak English, he decided it was not a good idea. Finally, he sent me to the pediatric ward, and it was like coming home.(My first years of being a nurse was in pediatrics).The head nurse, Vioronia was sweet, kind and helpful. She also had two medical students there so we had great stilted English chats.  I cleaned beds with disinfectant, changed sheets and held babies.


 Then a little boy, Louva, age 9, came in with a severe nosebleed. His sweet face and gentle countenance reminded me of my son Christian at that age when he had similar problems. Labs were drawn and his Hemoglobin was dangerously low, as was his hematocrit, and platelets.(The gift of many medical terms is that they are derived from latin, so I can decipher some things). I listened to his heart, and his heart

rate was extremely rapid due to his low hemoglobin, helped the mom with stopping the nosebleed,(and the blood was flowing down the back of his throat so he was coughing out thick, coagulated blood). It broke my heart. The nurse said, we need to transfuse him and was thinking, "YES! Give him hundred pints of blood because he is going to undergo cardiac arrest if we don't. Then she said, we don't have blood here….the family has to donate.  To make a long story short, Louva did get 500cc of whole blood. I had to leave before the transfusion began, but was able to return later in the day to see the life giving blood dripping into his veins. But then, his nosebleed had stopped, and he looked better. Ah, such joy to me. Dr. Just and the others got to meet Louva and his mother. We prayed with them and I promised to return as soon as possible.


We were able to see Louva again on Sunday afternoon, (after the four hour church service). He was looking good, with a huge smile on his face. The language of presence, smile and touch often transcends the spoken word.



Monday, March 4, I went back to the hospital. Dr. Harrison put me in the medical surgical ward. I worked with a nurse named, Landy. The head nurse was Vivian. Landy and I gathered supplies, including the "sterilized" tools for wound care. They sterilize by cleaning in soap and bleach and then boiling the instruments. I got to help and even did wound care–simple post-op care for appendectomies, C-sections, prostectomies, fistulas to name a few. I finished a little before noon and went to pediatrics where I spent some time with Louva, his mother and aunt. His older sister and baby sister came by around 12:30. I got him up, and outside for a short walk. He tires easily. His lab work came back right before I left,and while improved, his hemoglobin is still very low. He will need another transfusion soon. The good new is that his platelets rose from 19,000 to 228,000! That means he has relief from bleeding and nosebleeds. I will talk to Dr. Harrison about costs for hospital stays. This family has no money and the Lutheran church here is providing food for Louva during his hospital stay since families have to provide food for patients.


I will work one more morning in the hospital and “help” teach seminary students and their wives one more day as well.  They are very interested in the deaconess program as a way in which women can serve Christ and His church in an office.

OK….wrote this and it didn't send out because of the slow internet connection….here it is a few days later….worked at the hospital again this morning and had dinner with Dr. Harrison and his wife Doimina. Gave them 3 water filters. One for their family, one for the pediatric ward and one for the staff or where ever he sees fit.  Nursing skills are back on track!  My little friend, Louva is doing better and may go home tomorrow. I fear he has leukemia or some such thing. No definitive diagnosis, but his labs and symptoms indicate this.

Lots of love,

Always Mercy,




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