Saving a Life in Senegal

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On International Medical Relief’s most recent trip to a remote village in sub-Saharan Africa, a young boy between the ages of one and two, was brought in to our clinic by his mother on our first day in country. He sustained second degree burns on both of his legs and arms from scalding hot water earlier that morning. The boy was not crying, but was listless, and limp. After being rehydrated he became more alert. While tending to his wounds, the boy began to cry and move about, a sign we were so happy to see that we didn’t mind how much harder it made our job. Dr. Bill Hughes cleaned his wounds thoroughly with the help of first year medical student, Natasha Li. They used a dilute Betadine wash, treaded with a Triple Antibiotic Ointment, and wrapped with sterile dressings. They started him on an oral antibiotic to prevent sepsis.

The boy came back every morning that week as our team vigilantly washed and changed his dressing. It often is not state of the art equipment that makes the difference, but the love, care and concern of our team members with simple clinic supplies that can save lives first hand on each trip. Here, rehydration, continual cleaning and attentiveness, antibiotic ointment, and oral antibiotics saved his life. On the last day of our clinic, seeing this boy there were good signs of healing. The team gave the family all the supplies they would need to care for the wounds themselves as well as careful instruction. We parted ways knowing that we were not leaving a burn victim, but a survivor.

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