Finding Comfort 200 Kilometers From Home

Lemayian, Linda, and Emmanuel after his operation

Lemayian, Linda, and Emmanuel after his operation

Lemayian* and Emmanueli* traveled 207 kilometers and 11 hours to FAME from their home in Loliondo, a small village just south of the border between Kenya and Tanzania. Lemayian, the father of seven-year-old Emmanueli, was willing to go to great lengths to get his son the treatment he needed. “I knew FAME from my fellow villagers,” Lemayian told Angel, one of FAME’s social workers. “They said there is a very nice hospital in Karatu that is treating all kinds of diseases and doing operations.” His son Emmanueli had been complaining of arm pain after he had received treatment in a local dispensary for a fracture. When it was clear the pain wasn’t getting any better and was becoming more and more unbearable, Lemayian knew he needed to find advanced treatment for his son. They arrived in our Outpatient Department in February. Emmanueli was quickly admitted after an exam showed that he had severe damage to the tissue in his left arm. A long trip was further extended when Emmanueli required surgery and two months of follow-up treatment.

Fortunately, FAME has the resources necessary to perform complex surgeries in a sterile environment. With an operating room that has all the necessary gasses for proper anesthesiology and a trained OR team, we’ve been able to provide life-saving surgical care for our patient population, including Emmanueli. When Emmanueli was being prepared for surgery, Linda, one of our anesthetists who is also from Loliondo, was able to comfort him. As a young Maasai, Emmanueli didn’t speak Swahili yet and only spoke the local Maasai language. Linda was able to speak to him in his local language and provide a sense of security and reassurance as he went in for his initial operation. For the next couple months in and out of the operating theater, Linda would become a familiar face and calming presence – a piece of home, even 200 kilometers away.

After numerous trips to the OR for a skin graft and dressing changes following his operation and almost two months in the inpatient ward, Emmanueli and Lemayian became friends to all of us. During their stay, the nurses would sit with Emmanueli each day, coloring with him or teaching him a few Swahili words. He would walk around campus, hand in hand with staff, growing in his confidence and feeling at ease in a once unfamiliar environment. However, the sweetest part of Emmanueli’s extended stay with us here at FAME was Lemayian’s evident dedication to his son’s recovery. From bringing him 207 kilometers away from home and staying by his side through his entire stay, Lemayian was committed to ensuring that Emmanueli would return home a healthy, happy child regardless of how long it took. He was supportive of our staff’s treatment plan and was always willing to listen to how he could help his son and his community. “I will let [my village] know that it is not good to stay with a patient who is having a very bad condition for a very long time at home,” Lemayian told our team. “It may lead to a very bad condition like what happened to me.”

Prior to being discharged, Emmanueli had just received his final dressing change and was given instructions for wound care in the future. He said all his goodbyes to his new friends who had colored with him, walked with him, played with him, and kept him company during his months in the inpatient ward. As he left with his father, we were confident he was in good hands. Lemayian was a kind and loving father who would look out for Emmanueli for the rest of his life.

*Names have been changed to protect patient privacy

Robert Kovacs