Stephanie Allen

It was late afternoon of day one on the plateau. Dr. Baker called up our last patient to the bench.

Baby Rosemary, 2 months old, chief complaint was swelling of the eyes.  I scanned the packet for important details. I noted that the mother was HIV positive and determined that 3 kilos was much too small for a baby her age. All we could see were tiny feet poking out of the blanket. Let’s take a look. The mother of seven uncovered her daughter’s head. My heart dropped.

Large eyes protruded from sockets and were covered with sticky, gray cataracts. Her head as significantly disproportional to the rest of her tiny body. She had almost zero head control. Dr. Baker proceeded to do the physical exam. Any reflex that required resistance wasn’t present. After listening to her heart, Dr. Baker handed Nick the stethoscope and said, “One of the clearest heart murmurs you’ll ever hear.”

Dr. Baker took a deep breath and weighed the aspects of the physical exam. “I think your baby is very sick,” she began. “I don’t think she has ever been able to see.” She explained that she also probably had a neurological problem and a large heart defect. She needs to see a doctor in Kisumu and we will give you money to get there and to see the doctor.” She spoke so quietly. My hands were shaking. Every one of the students around were silent, tears glistening in our eyes. Rosemary’s mother seemed to realize the gravity of the situation. She began to cry.

Dr. Baker then asked the mother if we could pray for them. She nodded, wiping her eyes with Rosemary’s blanket. I closed my eyes and stroked the little girl’s tiny feet. Anyone who has ever heard Dr. Baker pray can attest to its peaceful effect. Near the end of this prayer for peace and healing, she thanked God for beautiful little Rosemary and for her beautiful mother. I opened my eyes to see her mother’s reaction. She grinned through her tears. “We thank You for Rosemary’s sweet little life. Her obvious contentment. We thank You for the joy that she has brought many hearts. We know she has a purpose and that you know exactly what it is.”

Not long after, Rosemary and her mother left, disappearing down the dirt road. The mother is 27 years old, HIV positive and has 7 children, the youngest of which has several severe medical conditions. As we drove and rain drops raced down, I wondered how this was fair. What kind of world is this? I was then reminded of Dr. Baker’s words: there is a purpose to her life, no matter how short it may be. We are all so fragile. We all matter. You, me, tiny Baby Rosemary, who will probably never run around or even see her mother’s face. God knows everything about that little girl and knit her together in her mother’s womb, just the way she is. There is a reason. May we rest in that. He will never forget us.

-Stephanie Allen – Baylor ’13

One thought on “Stephanie Allen

  1. Vandana Halder

    Stephanie,
    your stoy brought tears in my eyes.Being a physician, i deal with life and death everyday but never a situation like this.
    I am really proud of you guys and my daughter’s decision to be a part of this noble cause.
    Keep up the good work!!

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