"Seeing things like that changes you..."
Dr. Aaliya Ali
Dr. Aaliya Ali, a pediatrician from Whittier, California and Dr. Sara Khan an internist at San Antonio Hospital in California traveled to Shikarpur, Sindh eight weeks after the floods began in Pakistan to volunteer at SHINE Humanity’s pediatric facility in Shikarpur District Hospital.
Dr Aaliya Ali: I think that Sara and I were good combination I am a pediatrician and she is an internist, which is an adult doctor. We traveled to a different village every day, and saw anywhere from 200-300 people. I focused on the children, and Sara focused on their mothers. About one-third of our patients were children. What we encountered most was extreme malnutrition in women and children. Obviously for young children a mother’s health is tied to the child’s. It was difficult to see these malnourished mothers trying to care for their children.
In the pediatric ward in Shikarpur, I saw children who had extreme dehydration, permanent liver failure and meningitis. In the United States, these children would be in the Intensive Care Unit. SHINE Humanity is their only lifeline. So many of the diseases we saw could have been prevented if the patients had received proper primary care. I saw one year-old twins who were severely dehydrated and anemic. Due to the help that we were able to provide, they went home with their mother. I saw two children die while I was there was well. It was very tragic, because if those children had been brought to a hospital sooner they might have survived.
SHINE is doing a wonderful job to educate the people in these remote areas about proper hygiene. For instance, many of the women rub cow manure on their baby’s umbilical cord, because they think that it will cause it to fall off faster. A little education will help to remove these practices that are so harmful to children.
I do not see mother/child health getting any better. Most of the people in these areas are farmers and their main staple was rice, but the rice fields won’t dry out until March or April, so this year’s harvest is lost. The next few months will be difficult.
Dr. Sara Khan: I had previously traveled to Haiti with SHINE Humanity, so I was not new to working in an area devastated by a natural disaster. On the other hand going to Pakistan was much more emotional for me, because I grew up in Pakistan. These people who were already very poor, had lost the very little they had. I was happy to help in whatever way I could, and I have to say the SHINE Humanity support team that we worked with which included volunteers, a pharmacist, and a paramedic, were some of the best people I’ve ever worked with.
The majority of our patients were children, because they were the ones that were hardest hit by the floods. The adults we saw had chronic problems. They had probably not received proper medical care throughout their lives, so for them just to have access to doctors was a big deal.
One of the cases that affected me most was this young woman who had a chronic medical problem. I went back to the basics. I figured out that this woman needed blood, but we couldn’t find the right blood. The SHINE Humanity team rallied together and donated their own blood. They saved that woman’s life, and helping her made my trip worthwhile.
This experience was real eye opener. You go to a place where people don’t have enough to eat, and there is a whole generation of children who are malnourished. You can tell their parents what the problem is, but there is nothing they can do to help their own children. Seeing things like that changes you.
Supporting our Heal A Heart Campaign
Sunday March 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Hyatt Regency Hotel
1107 Jamboree Rd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
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