Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day Six - A Tough One - Rotary International VTT 2014 - Kampala, Uganda

{This is a series in posts about our trip to Uganda for the Riley/Rotary Vocational Training Team. To start at the beginning, go to this post. Check out the team blog at If you visit the team blog, please leave a comment! The team loves to hear your encouraging words!}

Today was a long and tough day. Immediately upon arriving at the hospital, a 3 month old baby,  who was scheduled for surgery this morning started doing poorly and the team got her down to surgery in a hurry. There are more details on the team blog, but she did not make it through despite their unrelenting efforts.

Although I didn't expect that something like this would happen, I certainly knew it was a possibility. I'm not sure that makes it any easier. I was so encouraged, however, by the team and their efforts to do everything in their power to fix Baby Shanel's heart. Even though the results were tragic, the training continued throughout the day as they dealt with a tough situation.

The day was consumed mostly by Shanel's situation. However, there were a few other notable events and I will share them here.

Patience moved from the ICU to the Step-Down Room and walked there all by herself. Quite a bit of pain, but she did it!

Barbra was able to move over to the step-down unit too. Although, this is a photo of her eating breakfast with her mom in the ICU. 

They gave them sunglasses and Barbra decided to wear hers to take a nap once in the step down unit! 

The girls donned surgical hats for a while too. This is one of the first times we saw Patience crack a smile. 

Barbra's smile never went away but it is seeming to get a little bigger! 

Around noon, the Kampala-North Rotary Club had scheduled a press conference. One thing I have definitely noticed about Rotary here is that it is so much more formal. I mean, really, really formal. So, even though I tried to sit in the back, the Rotarians insisted that the Immediate Past President have a spot at the head table. For those of you who know me, you know I'm fine with being in front of a crowd. But, I do have a very hard time with on-the-spot speaking without notes. I'm assured I did fine. I kept my part short just in case. :) 

From left to right... Rob Raylman, Executive Director of Gift of Life International, Dr. John Omagino, Director of Uganda Heart Institute, and a Director from the Health Minister's Office.  

And a shot of me, Steph and Rob looking over toward the MC. The press conference was also very formal with the first Ugandan speakers announcing they would, in the interest of time, dispense with the typical protocol. I was the first speaker from the US, so I just gave it my best shot. 

The team headed back to the hotel around 9PM and we each went to our rooms for a late dinner of snacks from home. Comfort food. Such a sad day. I kept putting myself in Shanel's parents' situation and how it would fee to wait all day for the results of surgery. I watched for much of the time in the OR as the team worked for hours to save little Shanel and I stayed there until the end. By observing this team of true professionals, I gained a new understanding of how important these missions are for these children. Just how close they are to death. Immediate surgery was Shanel's only chance at life and they gave her every chance they could. 

Rest in Peace Baby Shanel...

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