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No chance

Today a mother came into the hospital carrying a baby – one week old with ashen skin and a belly distended like a barrel. The child was born without an anus; it has not passed stool since birth. Its situation is critical. The belly has to be operated on immediately to create an artificial anus and to save the life of the child. Only hours remain. If nothing is done soon, the intestine will burst and the child will die of blood poisoning. The parents quietly listen to the urgent and worried explanations of the Malagasy doctor.

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Despite our best efforts, we are not always able to help.

But something happens that we did not expect. They take the child back and make a decision: Instead of surgery they will seek treatment from the local shaman. He needs to cleanse the child of evil spirits - then it will get better. We are left standing in front of the outpatient unit, watching the mother with the small bundle in her arm leave through the gate of the hospital and disappear in the midday sun.


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