I've spent the last three days of this mission in the echo lab, helping the cardiologist as she examines the hearts of children who make up what we like to call The Backlog.
It has been an interesting three days.
Each time we walk through the halls back to the echo room, we pass by dozens of anxious mothers, sitting, waiting, gripping their babies and hoping we'll be the ones to bring them good news.
Family after family comes into the little room, puts their bundle onto the table and watches as the doctor probes their child's chest.
The older ones lay there patiently, but some of the younger ones aren't so cooperative. Their parents try desperately to calm them down until the doctor finally has to give up and send them out for sedation.
It's difficult to tell how effective the sedative will be. Sometimes the kids come back looking like a sack of potatoes while others come back just tired and angry. It doesn't seem like the people administering the drugs have quite perfected the dosages.
One little boy laid in his dad's arms while the doctor tried to reach his chest, crying and crying, until he puked. That was gross. Another family drove hours to be there for the screening and then the child was so out of control he was sent away three times before the doctor finally managed to get a good look at his heart. All-in-all, it's been hectic.
But it's also been good for me to see first-hand how massive the need here is, and how much these parents love their children.
The last little boy we saw today had been born with serious defects effecting his entire body, including his heart. The doctor explained to the translator why a surgery would be near impossible and the mother must have read it on her face because she started crying even before she understood what was being said. So far, we've screened 45 children, and, considering we're not even halfway through the mission yet, I'm sure we'll see well beyond 100.
Thanks for helping us screen and save these children, and come back tomorrow for an update on one you recently helped, little Zahraa!