I am in Luang Prabang at the moment with the board members of Friends Without A Border. We are on an exploratory trip to see if we can build another children’s hospital like the one in Siem Reap. Here is what happened two days ago:

We traveled into the countryside to visit a district hospital. We were sitting in a meeting room talking to the head of the hospital and the doctor (there are only 3 pediatricians for 400,000 children in Laos). The doctor mentioned that they had a birth just a few hours ago where the baby was born with the intestines outside of the body. In the U.S. this would have been seen on an ultra sound but there are no ultra sound machines here. Nobody was prepared for this birth. The doctors in these small hospitals are not qualified to handle these kind of births. The doctors told the mother and father to take the baby home so it could die at home. If they kept it at the hospital, waiting for it to die, they family would have to pay.

We heard the story and asked the doctor to take us to the family’s home. It was a little village shack with no running water, there was dust and dirt, chickens and dogs. The baby was lying on a mat on the floor with it’s stomach exposed. The baby was screaming waiting to die.

We talked to the parents and convinced them to let us take the baby to the district hospital in Luang Prabang. We arrived in the district hospital just to find out that there was no pediatrician and no doctor who could help or was qualified to deal with this. We then called the University Hospital in the capital city of Vientiane, the only hospital that had done this surgery successfully in Laos. The doctor asked us to e-mail a photo. We did. He called back and said “send the baby”. We were told it has a 50/50 chance to live.  We booked tickets on the next flight to Vientiane which left at 9.00 p.m. The father and baby were put on the plane that was met by an ambulance in Vientiane.

The next day we received a call at 11.00 a.m. that the baby was now stable enough to go into surgery. At 2.00 p.m. we received another call that the surgery was finished and the baby was still alive.

This morning we received a call that the baby was “through the worst” and was “jolly happy”. The father asked if he could use some of the money we gave him to buy a rice cooker as he has to remain at the hospital with the baby. We also found out that the father has relatives in Vientiane that he had not seen in 6 years. The relatives were contacted, his uncle is on the way to the hospital to help out.

The baby will need post surgery treatment and will have to remain in Vientiane hospital for about 2 months. One of our board members has committed the funds to cover the baby’s hospital stay, the food for the father and the airline tickets back home to Luang Prabang. The doctors say the baby will live a normal and healthy life!

I guess on the day we visited the hospital, we were meant to come into that baby’s life and she was meant to come into ours and change it for the better.