July 2, 2014
Volunteer Doctor Saves Baby's Life

Seasoned international volunteer and HOPE’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year, Pediatrician Alan Jamison, was on a mission in Mozambique meant to assess health care education opportunities for Project HOPE to help improve clinical maternal child health. Traveling with a young physician, Dr. Abu Aimane, who helped with the Portuguese translations, Dr. Jamison and Dr. Aimane visited a new remote medical facility each day to participate in daily rounds, offer bedside training and asses health care education needs.

But when Dr. Jamison and Dr. Aimane reached Montepuez district Hospital in a remote area of Mozambique, an emergency situation was escalating. A 10-month old baby was experiencing a very high fever and resulting seizures.

“When we walked into the hospital emergency room, I saw a group of nurses and the baby’s parents standing around the child, but without a doctor present no one was taking charge,” Dr. Jamison said. “It was almost as if they had given up.”

Drawing on his multitude of experiences on dealing with severe emergency situations in locations with few resources, Dr. Jamison quickly switched gears from his health care training mission to save the life of the baby. “With help from Dr. Aimane who directed my orders to staff, I immediately ordered an IV, oxygen and the available seizure medicine and instructed the Portuguese speaking staff on the immediate steps to take to save the young child’s life,” he said.

With no lab on premises, Dr. Jamison knew it would be days before the baby’s blood work reports came back. Working with local medical protocol, Dr. Jamison deducted that the symptoms of fever with seizure or altered consciousness in a high Malaria endemic area indicated a working diagnosis of severe malaria and possible meningitis. After dealing with the emergency situation, the baby started immediate treatment for these illnesses.

"When I come back from volunteer medical missions, I am often asked if I think the work I do really makes a difference. Sometimes, you just don’t know," he said. "But in this case, training local medical staff and providing them with the equipment and medicines they need to respond to emergencies quickly saved the life of this child, and provided lifesaving experience for this staff to draw on for years to come.”

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