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The Baby Natasha Mei Tragedy

The Baby Natasha Mei Tragedy  (May 19 to May 23, 2005)

Great sorrow this story brings us. Baby Natasha Mei was of our own family. Here is her story:
Our son Michael married a Guatemalan girl, Gabby, in September 2002 and they were expecting a baby. Gaby spent days upon days buying cute things and hand-painting a baby room with Strawberry Shortcake dolls. They were determined that the baby would be a girl. The supposed due date was May 26. As these things go, on the night of Thursday, May 19th, 2005, a girl, Natasha Mei was born. The pregnancy went fine, and little baby Natasha Mei went home the following day, Friday. When Anita and I had our first, Michael, it took a parents love to see his cuteness. Not so with Natasha Mei, she cutest newborn we had ever seen. She was such a beautiful and perfect baby, with lots of dark hair and perfect skin. We took lots of pictures. Saturday, Michael called the pediatrician to say they were worried that  Natasha had not yet had a bowel movement. The doctor seemed irritated to be bothered on a Saturday, and simply said that there was nothing to worry about, the baby had passed meconium in the hospital and that sometimes these things happen. Not to worry. Sunday evening Michael and Gabby were really worried because the baby was fussing and had not yet had a bowel movement. So they called the attending pediatrician and he assured them that nothing was wrong and to give her something for tummy ache. Then, a few hours later Natasha seemed quite ill and started to vomit green bile. Her tummy was very hard, and the baby was crying softly. So Anita and I rushed to their house at 1:00 am and took the baby to the hospital right away. We took her to the best hospital in Guatemala City for pediatric care. She was rushed to intensive care. They did x-rays right away and the results showed a blockage in the intestines.  It's a longer, sad story but the pediatrician had lied, the baby had not passed her first meconium in the hospital. Had we known this, we would have had her back in the hospital on Saturday and made sure she received proper care at that time. Natash Mei had a condition called 'Hirshprung's Disease', where some of the nerves in the large intestine do not function.  There was a blockage and the intestine had burst from internal pressure. Her body was filling with the material from inside her intestines, causing massive infection. Blood platelets were needed and the only way to get them was to take cash to the blood bank, but we weren't told this until 7 hours later - valuable time was being lost. Time and time again we are faced with illogical stupidity in the health care system here. In order to get blood products,  the patient's family (who are normally frantic by now) must personally go to the blood bank and pay in cash.  The hospital won't order it on their credit and there is no blood bank delivery service.  So at close to 8:00 am Michael had to speed over to the blood bank through rush hour traffic. Now it doesn't take much intelligence to figure out that this system is broken. Meanwhile we had hundreds of people praying from all over the world. Finally we got the blood product back to the hospital, and the doctors were ready to operate. At 10:30 am, baby Natasha Mei's operation started.  They had to remove all the fecal matter from her peronatal area. This matter, which had come out into her body cavity from the burst intestine, was the source of all the infection. By that time, her kidney began to fail from infection. There were many different tubes and machines connected to her. The doctors said it was a 50/50 chance of survival The operation seemed like a success. They were able to remove all the infectious material and mend the burst intestine. Her body was still fighting the massive infection, and her kidneys were failing. However, the doctors were able to stabilize her. After a few hours of stability, she took a plunge for the worst. Her lungs were filling with liquid, she stopped breathing. They hooked her up to a machine to get her breathing again. The doctors said she had some brain hemorrhage. They were going to need blood transfusions constantly, as her kidneys were barely functioning. Many gracious people came to give blood, and we thank everyone who did and offered. Baby Natasha Mei's blood transfusions were working, and she made it through the night. Tuesday morning she was stable, the transfusions were going well. Things looked like they might turn out ok. So we waited and prayed. Michael and Gaby were by the baby's side holding her hand the whole time. We stood watching from behind the glass of the intensive care area. The baby's heart did not endure the next transfusion... baby Natasha Mei died, 6:38 pm, May 23rd. Barely five days old. The doctors had tried their hardest, but it was not enough. If only the pediatrician hadn't lied to us, if only he hadn't been so curt when Michael called, and if only he hadn't been more concerned about his weekend off from work.  Natash Mei died from doctor error, doctor indifference, pure and simple. Why do such things happen? How many baby's lives are saved at the Hands of Hope Medical Clinic each month. But the one most precious to us could not be saved Thank you to all those who have and are supporting us in many ways during this very difficult family time. 
That's Michael in scrubs with Mei, minutes after she was born

Hands Of Hope Ministries

Hands of Hope is a medical mission to the rural indigenous poor of Guatemala.

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