Sad news: Ithateng passed away Wednesday night.
Kirsten was feeding her when it happened. It was quick.
Her death was not for a lack of fight. Ithateng had been battling, holding on, swimming as best she could against the swelling tide of her illness and dehydration, day after day after day. The bo’me did their best, providing her 24-hour attention and care. Along with medical students Katie and Sean, who just left, Kirsten worked diligently to figure out the best course of action for Ithateng’s treatment, working with various partners at the hospital and elsewhere.
On Monday, Dr. Amy, who works for the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative and is a close friend and partner of TTL, put a nasogastric tube into Ithateng’s little stomach because Ithateng just wasn’t swallowing anymore. While I was out of town in Maseru this week, Kirsten and the bo’me continued their constant efforts to get Ithateng to hold something down. She kept vomiting.
Wednesday night, it all – the vomiting, the diarrhea, the subsequent dehydration, the malnutrition, the HIV, the unknown factors of illness – became too much, and Ithateng lost her brave fight.
I find I can’t help but to curse the system, the lack of resources, and we all mourn the life that could have been lived. But I also look at TTL and understand again how important it is, how many little lives out there are vulnerable or on the verge, and how much work still needs to be done.
I won’t soon forget Ithateng’s big eyes looking back at me, her gaunt face, her visible discomfort. Neither will I forget the moments when she was comforted and calm, warm in a blanket and held tight by one of the bo’me, drifting off to a quiet sleep.
Now I hope she rests in peace, free of discomfort, finished with fighting…
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation Touching Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity Touching Tiny Lives (TTL).