SUDAN - A Sudanese mother brings her malnourished and dehydrated child to our medical clinic.
SUDAN - Dr. Jon Bird felt the sweat pouring down his neck. It was 100 degrees in West Darfur. But this emergency room doctor from Farmington, Mo., couldn’t stop seeing patients. His team of three had cared for 100 people that day. Others waited silently in the hot sun for treatment. It had been 20 months since outside medical help had arrived.
A young mother stepped into the medical tent. At first, Dr. Bird thought she was carrying a dead child in the folds of her clothes. No. The baby’s chest heaved with slow, agonizing breaths. Almost immediately, the baby’s body began shaking with seizures. Then, his body gave way to the rigors of disease and suffering—a stiff neck, blank staring eyes, jaundice.
Dr. Bird looked at the boy’s parents. How could he comfort them? They spoke a different language. They had a different understanding of God. Dr. Bird turned his attention back to the baby. What could he do? The child’s veins had collapsed. Carefully, Dr. Bird placed a needle into the leg bone to treat the baby’s severe cerebral malaria, meningitis and pneumonia. The seizing stopped. But the baby was still not responsive. Without more intensive treatment than Dr. Bird could deliver in this remote outpost, the little boy would not survive.
A Sudanese mother brings her malnourished and dehydrated child to our medical clinic.
Racing against disease—racing against death
With a willing driver and interpreter, Dr. Bird, the baby and parents made a two-hour trek by car across the desert to the hospital.
“The little boy, stared up at me with big distant eyes as we sped past herds of camel over the sand,” Dr. Bird recalls.
Rebels stopped them along the way. They pleaded for safe passage and received it—even though the baby’s father was a member of an opposing tribe. Dr. Bird had to leave the baby in the hands of the doctors at the hospital.
Traveling back across the desert at night would have been even more dangerous for the doctor. Dr. Bird turned to say a quick goodbye to the parents. He knew they were scared and without resources. They had arrived at the makeshift clinic by donkey. So, Dr. Bird left them with a gift of money he had received from his emergency room partner back home in Missouri who had told him, “God will show you what to do with this.”
This little baby was one of 2,000 people treated by Dr. Bird and a team of two local health care workers in a four-week period. Conditions were difficult and dangerous. But, Dr. Bird's team saved lives and brought hope to many.
“I am thankful to be able to show a tiny bit of God’s love,” says Dr. Bird, expressing his motivation for serving the people of Darfur. Thank you for supporting volunteers like Dr. Jon Bird. With your help, these volunteers are making a difference for many—one precious life at a time.