As a nurse you’re constantly preparing for “worst-case-scenario” situations…that you hope to never actually encounter. You train to administer CPR (which is now done on a manikin that tells you, all the time, that you’re doing it wrong), you drill through Code Blues, you look through Code Carts a few times a year so you’ll know where all your equipment is (just in case)…and then you label every drawer, anyways. Most importantly, you pray that those around you are going to be able to back you up, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
I always knew that moving to Liberia and setting up a clinic- in an area where there are no other options- would mean, that eventually, an emergency would come. But you’re never, ever fully prepared when it actually happens.
A few weeks ago, as the sun was setting over the Atlantic, Cyrus and his aunt showed up on our doorstep. Cyrus lives on the mission with his family, so he’s one of the young men we’ve gotten to know over the past couple of months. He also helped us kill a big Cobra while cleaning out the office at the school. Cyrus had been sick, complaining of a headache all day. He was sitting on our porch, bouncing his legs up and down, and moaning because he was in so much pain. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. I grabbed some Tylenol and a cup of water, hoping it would take off the edge a bit, and quickly did a Malaria test, though I was pretty sure of the result. I told his aunt that he looked like he needed to get to the hospital- over an hour away. Just as the Malaria test was showing a positive result, Cyrus fell, prostrate, onto the floor. I yelled for Steve (who was also sick with Malaria at the time). We rolled Cyrus over- he was unresponsive. He had a good pulse, but was going between rapid breathing to not breathing at all. I sent his aunt to get help while Steve and I tried to maintain his airway. We knew that if we didn’t try to get him to the hospital, he would die right there on our porch. His family came running, including some friends who had a motorbike. We put an unconscious Cyrus on the motorbike between the driver, Emeka, and a local fisherman, Marcus. The sun had gone down, and Emeka’s bike didn’t have a light, so he borrowed someone’s headlamp, and off they went through the jungle to try and reach the waterside. We called ahead to the hospital to make sure a team would be ready to accept him once they crossed the river.
After about an hour of riding through the bush, Marcus, Emeka, and Cyrus (who was still unresponsive) made it to the Cestos River. They ran to the nearest village to find someone with a canoe to take him across, but no one would volunteer- it was dark outside making it unsafe to cross the river… unless you were a skilled fisherman. Thank God for Marcus. Marcus crossed Cyrus in a small, dugout canoe. He then put Cyrus and himself on another motorbike to finish the final 5 miles to the hospital. The team at the hospital was waiting, they began CPR and started IV Malaria treatment. Two days later, Cyrus came home!!!
Cyrus is now doing well. He is in the 7th grade at Oceanview Christian School (the school on the mission site) and has even started doing some work with the church. I told him he is a walking miracle… God’s not finished with him yet!