Fighting Against Time to Save Tika's Life

When is a bellyache not just a bellyache?

Tika arrived at St. Boniface Hospital in February after suffering from a bad stomach ache for over a week. As with many children who lack access to healthcare, Tika, age 10, had already been through a lot. Just getting from her home to the hospital was a huge challenge – the 25 mile trip takes almost two hours, and the rutted, washed out roads make for a bone-jarring journey that is difficult for healthy people, and agonizing for those already in pain.

And Tika was already very sick. She was diagnosed with Typhoid Perforation, a common complication of the Typhoid Fever that still ravages many communities that lack access to routine vaccines. Advanced Typhoid causes holes in the intestines, and patients – most commonly children – suffer terrible pain and can quickly become malnourished because they cannot properly digest their food and get necessary nutrients from it.

Thankfully, Tika came to the only hospital in southern Haiti that can offer a wide range of life-saving surgeries at no cost to patients, thanks to your support. The surgical team at St. Boniface quickly scheduled her for a minimally invasive surgery to heal the damage to her intestines. St. Boniface Hospital is the only place she could have this kind of laparoscopic surgery, due to our highly trained Haitian surgical team and equipment maintained by SBHF’s nationally-renowned Biomedical Engineering Technicians.

In most cases patients who undergo these surgeries are feeling much better within a few days or weeks. But Tika continued to get sicker, even after her surgery. She was wasting, getting thinner and thinner. Despite excellent post-operative care, Tika spiked a fever and developed an infection in her surgical site, which was quickly treated with a heavy rotation of antibiotics.

Tika after her first surgery, still very sick

Tika was seriously ill, and losing weight rapidly. The St. Boniface Hospital team had to work quickly to figure out how to save her life.

Tika after starting treatment for tuberculosis pleurisy

Tika after starting treatment for Tuburculosis Pleurisy. The obvious change in her health is thanks to your support of the hospital’s comprehensive, high-quality care.

But her care team knew there was something more sinister was still going on – an otherwise healthy ten-year-old shouldn’t still be this sick. So, the pediatricians, surgeons, nurses, and lab techs rallied together to get to the root of Tika’s illness. They had to act fast and figure out what was going on while she continued to get thinner and thinner. They knew they were fighting against time to find a cure for Tika.

A month after she was first admitted to St. Boniface Hospital, Tika was diagnosed with Tuberculosis Pleurisy, a rare form of TB that causes fluid build-up around the lungs. Her body had been fighting the TB, but it couldn’t keep a multi-front war going for long. Thankfully, your support makes it possible for St. Boniface Hospital to offer top-notch tuberculosis treatment to all patients, regardless of cost.

Tika started the intensive regimen of TB medications as soon as her diagnosis was confirmed. She also had a chest tube inserted to help drain the excess fluid from her lungs. Studies have shown that chest tubes can help avoid some of the serious long-term complications that patients with Tuberculosis Pleurisy can develop, so the surgical team at SBHF was quick to implement this advanced treatment.  

The change in Tika’s outlook and health came quickly after her care team was able to get her on the treatment she needed. But it was still another two months before she was healthy enough to go home. In that time she received intensive medical treatments, nutritious food, and full time care from the St. Boniface Hospital pediatrics department.

Dr. Ward, Dr Desiree and their patient Tika on discharge day healthy again

Tika’s life was saved by the ability to come to a hospital that provides all of these services at no cost to her family. Your support pays for everything our patients need, from highly trained staff to high-tech equipment and essential medicines. If Tika’s family needed to pay for her treatments, or stay at the hospital 24/7 to care for their daughter themselves, as is the case in many public hospitals in Haiti, they may have been forced to make a terrible choice that no family should ever have to make. You make it so that no parent ever has to make those choices if their child comes to St. Boniface Hospital for medical care.

On May 12th, almost exactly three months after she arrived at St. Boniface Hospital, Tika finally went home with a clean bill of health. In southern Haiti so many people lack access to any kind of healthcare, let alone the advanced care that Tika got at St. Boniface Hospital. If she had not been able to get the care she needed at St. Boniface, Tika likely would not have survived. Hers is another life saved by the St. Boniface Hospital staff’s relentlessness in caring for all of their patients. That care is made possible by having the resources, facilities, and training they need, thanks to the support of thousands of supporters like you.

Tika healthy again after receiving lifesaving health care at St. Boniface Hospital in Haiti