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Jyoti: A New Light

June 27, 2010 - India

by Caitlin McQuilling

One of the most touching events of my life happened  today at the RMF Nutrition Rehabilitation Center at Jeevan Jyoti Hospital.  The mother of one of our patients decided to name her new baby, Jyoti, after our NRC.

Neha came in 18 days ago as one of the most serious cases we had seen yet at the NRC.  Neha, two years old, weighed just 4 kgs, had a blistering fungal infection, a fever, and lymph nodes which suggested TB.  She was immediately admitted to a private room to avoid possibly spreading her infection to other patients and was started right away on therapeutic milk, an antibiotic, and anti-fungal medication.

At admission, Neha’s mother, Hakari, told us that she was about 7 months pregnant, but wasn’t exactly sure because she never had a pre-natal exam.  We scheduled one for her the next day and then settled the patients and their families down for the night.  We were in for quite the surprise!  That first night Hakari started having contractions while Premlata, our staff nurse, was giving the children one of their 2 hourly nightly feeds.  At 5am, our first NRC baby was born (upstairs in the delivery room)!  A healthy baby girl weighing 2.9 kg!

As per custom, the baby does not receive a name until an auspicious day and time.  While it is also customary for most women go to their mother’s home for the first few weeks after delivery, we convinced Hakari that it was essential for Neha to stay at the hospital so that she could receive her full course of treatment and start her tuberculosis medications (she was diagnosed as positive the next day).  Hakari realized the importance of the NRC not just for Neha, but for the new baby, so sent for her mother to come stay at the NRC as well.

For the past 2 weeks, Hakari, Neha, grandma and the baby have stayed with us at the NRC.  While the baby has mostly slept all day, mom and Neha got to bond and play as Neha gained more and more energy and weight.  She’s already gained over a kilo!  Hakari is receiving hearty, healthy food and is counseled daily by our staff on breastfeeding, infant and young child care practices, and family planning.  Our NRC baby has received all her immunizations and is cute cute cute!

Today, Hakari made a touching announcement to our staff.  The family has decided to name the baby Jyoti, light in Hindi, after our NRC at Jeevan Jyoti hospital (I guess Real Medicine didn’t have the same ring).  Hakari says that her stay at the NRC has changed her life and will forever impact the lives of her children.  She wants to honor us and honor her child by naming the child, Jyoti, after our NRC.  Jyoti, she said, will be a constant reminder of what she’s learned at the NRC and how to keep her child healthy.

It really doesn’t get better than this.

photo: Neha and her new sister Jyoti

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