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Unbelievable conditions…

April 20, 2006

This month was the saddest month for me and the boys. Shakir’s brother was diagnosed with appendicitis and was to undergo appendectomy…removal of his appendix. 

One evening while chilling with some boys, Shakir calls me and tells me his brother is at the hospital. I quickly jump in the car and head off to Um Durman, a city about 30 minutes away. They had just moved into a new, smaller house because his father and mother are separated and they couldn’t afford their old house anymore since the father wasn’t supporting them well. I knew that me and the boys were going to have collect some money for them because Shakir himself had the same operation a few weeks back and that, coupled with the down payment on the new house, drained their pockets. 

When he told me to come to Um Durman Teaching Hospital, my heart broke apart. That’s the hospital I have my DR’s and exams. That’s the hospital where I first saw that
Sudan was no different from any other third world country. It’s a large hospital in the center of the city, located across the Shuhada souk. They just added a new section for children which wasn’t yet finished so Shakir’s brother, Sadiq, was being treated in the general section. 

The hospital was grossly dirty…filth everywhere and the disgusting smell of sewage evident in the air. I could have sworn I could see the air, not smoke, but it smelled bad enough for me to see. There were people sleeping in the streets and many more sleeping on the floor all over the entrance to the hospital. I called Shakir to come out and show me the way. We went around the back to avoid all the bodies lying on the ground. There was dirty water dripping from broken pipes and running down many parts of the building. I felt that this building would collapse some day due to all the water getting into the walls. 

When we got the room Sadiq was in and immediately saw his mother and sisters sitting at his bedside; silently praying for him to get better. Sadiq was like a little brother to me… 

The room was overcrowded, some people even lying on the floor. Just across our room I could see another room with no beds; there were about 30 men sleeping on the floor. Sadiq’s strength was slowly diminishing and was having difficulty talking and breathing. 

I looked around for a doctor in order to ask him when the operation was…but couldn’t find one. I heard some snoring in one of the doctors’ rooms and peered inside only to find two obese nurses sleeping with their heads on the table. I was too pissed to be polite so I woke them up and asked them where the doctor was and that we had a little 10 y/o boy sick. One of them continued sleeping while the other one told me that the doctor was sleeping somewhere in the hospital campus. 

I couldn’t believe it. Are these people being paid to sleep or treat sick patients? I went out and looked for another hospital to take Sadiq to. I found the Blue Nile Hospital and they told me that they would take us but had no beds; bring your own bed. I went on to another hospital and the told me that there is no doctor around so the kid will receive no treatment till the morning. I was left with no option but to go back to the first hospital and search for Sadiq’s doctor. 

An hour later…I woke up the nurses again and told them to look for the doctor. One of them finally got up and went to look for the doctor. I followed her to make sure she doesn’t hide in another room and sleep. After walking around for minutes, she told me she can’t find him. I asked her to call him but she said she didn’t have his number; a white lie. I was left with no alternative but to wait another hour for the operation. 

THREE hours later, Sadiq was taken to the OR and we were asked to stay outside. I went to the window and peered into the theatre. It was a large room with several beds lines side by side…somewhat reminding me of those slaughtering rooms they slay sheep at Eid. I couldn’t believe that they doctors were operating on several patients beside each other; I mean it’s easy for a patient to get infected by another. 

I recognized some of the doctors; they were still studying at my college. Then I remembered it was a teaching hospital, where they make you sign a contract stating that they are not to be sued if anything goes wrong; the operation is for free but you can’t file charges if someone dies. 

The doctors were cutting up patients and operating on them and then moving on to the next patient, letting the nurses stitch them up, and so on. After each two patients were operated on, they were carted out and another two were wheeled in and this kept on going for the whole day. 

Sadiq’s operation was successful and he was transferred to the recovering wing of the hospital. I went home to change and came back later that afternoon. The building Sadiq was in was overcrowded to the extent that people were lying on the staircase. Two to three children sharing single beds…three families standing around a whole bed, mothers tending to their own children. It was sad. It’s amazing that infections haven’t started. 

Sadiq was to be released after two days of care. I came back the third day to drive him back home because taxis and buses were too rough and his wound hasn’t healed. The car was with Tony so we ended up renting a cab to drive him home where he’s now recovering. I pray he recovers soon…

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Categories: Life, Medicine, Other Blogs, R. Nile
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