I first met Anathalie in 2010 at Shyira Hospital-she was one of the sickest patients I had taken care of. She had endocarditis, an infection of one of her heart valves. The central hospital in Kigali insisted she stay in Kigali, but she was too poor and she came back to us in Shyira. After several weeks in the hospital, she miraculously recovered and went home. Miraculously again, in 2012 she received heart surgery and had not one, but two, valves replaced with metallic valves. Her heart recovered almost nearly normal function. Considering that she is illiterate and innumerate, she managed her medicines well, including Warfarin, a blood thinner necessary to prevent the valves from developing blood clots. When we moved from Shyira to Ruhengeri, she still called me often (sometimes several times a day!), and would drop by to visit.
Last summer we noticed that she was very giggly and was asking questions about being pregnant. Sure enough, she was expecting a baby. Apparently the father was an older, married man, who fled the scene when he found out Anathalie was pregnant. I feared the worse, as she conceived the baby on warfarin, which can cause serious birth defects.
As the time for the delivery neared, I tried to estimate the date of delivery. Anathalie had no idea of the dates of her last menstrual period. Warfarin can cause the baby to be extra small, so a routine ultrasound was not all that helpful either. I took her off warfarin and put her on a longer acting blood thinner, provided by Team Heart, a group from Boston which comes to do cardiac surgery once a year. But then she didn’t deliver and she didn’t deliver. So I switched her back to Warfarin. And then, sure enough, she went into labor! But it all work out and she had a normal baby girl-another miracle. I don’t know what kind of life that baby will have, and she well could be one of the 8% of children in Rwanda who die before the age of 5. For her-the child of a single mom, living in poverty, the likelihood is even higher. For now, though, Anathalie is very happy with her new baby, and is happy just to have ONE child. (Family planning to follow…)
Every good and perfect gift comes from above James 1:17a