We first met our patient Lesly on Monday, July 9th, during the first day of a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in Ecuador. Accompanied only by her older sister, it became immediately apparent by the physician attending her that she not only had a serious fever but also a severely fractured arm. After questioning, we discovered that her arm had been broken for over three weeks after she fell off a chair in her home.
The timid five-year old lives with her family in Tambayacu, a small, rural Amazonian community only an hour away from the city of Tena. Lesly’s mother had the difficult task of raising nine children while her husband heavily drinks and is unable to hold down any kind of steady job. The impoverished family reside in a small, wooden house with only three beds to accommodate everyone. Aside from the parents’ bed, the other two are shared amongst the nine children. Those that can’t fit onto a bed resort to sleeping on wooden mats on the floor.
When we saw her condition we treated her as best as we could within the boundaries of the Mobile Clinic. The physician knew that Lesly’s arm required much more serious medical attention. After finding her mother and explaining to her the gravity of the situation; however, Lesly’s mother was very hesitant to send her daughter to the hospital. Among the various cultural traditions within the Amazonians is the belief that fractures and injuries are to be solely cured through natural remedies, such as from leaves from local plants.
Regardless, we still pressed hard on the matter by explaining her condition, as well as the urgency and importance of treating Lesly quickly before her case became more complicated. Eventually, the worried mother finally confessed that she was scared because a friend had mentioned that a visit to the hospital ultimately meant that the arm would be amputated. Understanding her concern, we assured her that this wouldn’t happen, and asked her to accompany us to She finally agreed and the young girl was escorted to a hospital back in Tena by MEDLIFE staff members.
Lesly’s attending physician at Archidona Hospital found her case to be a complete dislocation of the posterior cortex and diagnosed her with a class III supracondylar fracture of the humerus. Afterwards, they administered her some antibiotics along with pneumonic analgesia to alleviate the pain. On July 12th, Lesly had her surgery, and following her post-op several days after, was notified of her successful results and was allowed to return back home safely.
MEDLIFE will return in a few days to donate clothing to the family and follow up with Lesly and other members who require medical exams and attention. Cases like Lesly’s are another reason why we continue to work in rural communities and urban slums where families don’t have access or the economic means to receive healthcare. Lack of education and fear of the unknown is a major factor for health complications that are usually preventable or curable and can ultimately lead to unnecessary death.