One day as I was on rounds at Chogoria Hospital, I saw a patient sit up, gasp for breath, and collapse.
Quickly, several of us hurried over to assess him and found him to be pulseless. Dr. Juliet started chest compressions, and I ran to my office to retrieve our only and well-broken-in defibrillator. When we attached the defibrillator pads, we saw ventricular fibrillation, which is a fatal heart rhythm. We shocked him and saw a return to a more normal rhythm—not really normal, but at least not fatal. His heart rate gradually decreased and even became a ventricular tachycardia, nearly pulseless. Dr. Juliet shocked him again. Ultimately, the patient’s rhythm became normal and his breathing resumed.
However, the man didn't wake up. His primary illness was heart failure. We had done an ultrasound on his heart a couple of days prior and had seen how poorly his heart was contracting. Now, after being in a fatal rhythm that required CPR and two shocks, his already underperforming heart was pretty beat up. His pulse was barely palpable and very little blood was going to his brain. We did another ultrasound. At times, his heart didn't even produce enough pressure to open the aortic valve. I honestly didn't expect him to live even an hour or two and strongly recommended that his family transfer him to a hospital with an ICU. And, of course, we prayed.
Two days later, I was stunned to see him sitting up and talking lucidly. Amazing! He is eating and feeling better. I did not speak his language, but with our nurse interpreting, we told him that he had essentially died and, by God's grace, we had been able to revive him. Surely, this man must have some unfinished work. He collapsed during one of the few hours of the week when he was directly observed and we could intervene immediately. People who are defibrillated do not often survive the "code," and his heart is badly diseased.
That night, we left the defibrillator on the ward, which is not our usual practice. Dr. Juliet was called by the nurses later that night; they were performing chest compressions on our patient. Dr. Juliet defibrillated him again.
During my next rounds, I called Chaplain Roy for a consult. He came with Evangelist Mbae. I explained the situation, and they engaged the man in conversation. It turned out that our patient needed to reconcile with God, so they all prayed—fervent, active prayer.
Hopefully, our patient will live on and his family will be able to afford a transfer to an ICU. But even if not, I think he has had the immeasurable gift of some days to reconcile with the King.
I am so grateful to work in this missions hospital. This community God has placed me in at this time is a blessing. My intern colleagues are compassionate and learn skills quickly, and my chaplain colleagues are also compassionate and can engage in the Great Work freely.