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Chicuque Rural Hospital Doctors Save 12-year-old Boy from Death from Bacterial Meningitis

On a typical day in a town fifteen miles away from Chicuque Rural Hospital (CRH), Hortensia Martinique, a 46 year-old widow tends her farm. Her vibrant 12 year-old son, Felisberto, and his six brothers work alongside her. Hortensia and her family grow vegetables and raise livestock-- chickens, goats and pigs-- for food. They sell surplus vegetables, chickens, goats and pigs for income.

One summer day while the family was resting at home, Felisberto suddenly fell to the floor in an unconscious heap. When his mother heard the clamor and rushed to his aid, she found Felisberto lying on the floor, unable to move his upper body.

Frightened and concerned, Hortensia quickly summoned one of her older sons to help her in carry Felisberto to the local hospital. The clinic staff recognized that their facility did not have the capacity to attend to the young boy's urgent need for care and quickly transferred him to Chicuque Rural Hospital.

By the time Felisberto arrived at CRH's Emergency Unit his condition had become critical. He had an irregular heartbeat, his eyes were rolled back in his head, and his upper body frame was paralyzed. Tubes were inserted into his mouth to keep his body nourished.

Given the severity of the boy's condition, Dr. Xavier, Felisberto's doctor, called for a series of blood and other diagnostic tests. He then performed a spinal tap to determine whether Felisberto had meningitis, something he strongly suspected after evaluating the boy's symptoms. Meningitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the fluid surrounding the brain or in the spinal cord. Untreated, the infection can result in brain damage, hearing loss, seizures, and even death. Symptoms include headache, stiff neck, fever, nausea, listlessness and irritability. The disease progresses rapidly within the body and may lead to death in 24 to 72 hours if it is left untreated.

Lab tests confirmed bacterial meningitis and Felisberto was placed in isolation to prevent the spread of the disease to other patients and the staff. Dr. Xavier immediately began a treatment with antibiotics and intravenous nutrients fluids. Felisberto remained in a paralytic state for a week.
Dr. Xavier and the Internal Medicine Unit staff diligently monitored, observed, and treated the boy. By the third week, Felisberto slowly began to recover and was able to drink water without assistance. At that point, Hortensia knew that Felisberto was on the road to recovery.

Hortensia and her son both speak of their appreciation for the treatment and service they received at CRH. They are especially grateful to Dr. Xavier and his team for saving Felisberto and giving him a second chance at life.

Felisberto was officially discharged in the second week of January 2003. He was excited to return to school.