Monday, May 9, 2011


Over the weekend two patients on the male ward died with severe anemia. Just to give you a reference range the normal hemoglobin is >14 in men. In residency the lowest hemoglobin I have seen is 4.5. The two patients that died over the weekend had hemoglobins of 2.5. My roommate Beth had a patient today that presented with a hemoglobin of 1.8. How is that compatible with life? The sad thing was the two men that died over weekend were only 16 and 18 years old.

So I discovered last Friday that there is a massive blood shortage in Kenya right now. The country gets most of its blood from school aged children and they were on vacation for the month of April. So currently in the hospial you cannot get blood unless you have a family member that can donate for you. To top it off last week the blood bank ran out of agents to cross match the blood and had to send all the blood (even the family donated blood) to Nairobi for cross matching. So even if the family donated it would take 2-3 days to get a unit of blood. This explains why my two patients died from severe anemia over the weekend.

It is hard because you just feel helpless. I went to the blood bank and provided them with the names of my patients and asked how quickly they could get blood. They told me it probably wouldn't be until Monday due to the lack of reagents. I asked if there was any way to speed it up and they said no. So that is where it ended. There was nothing else I could do.

I think there will be a lot more helpless moments to come over the course of the next six weeks. I am trying to focus on the things I can do and the ways I can help.


  1. Sweet Mackenzie,
    Makes you see how sheltered we are in American. In "our world" life is easy. You may feel helpless as a doctor but as a Christian you are not helpless. Pray for their comfort and for their peace.
    I love you so,

  2. Mackenzie,

    I echo your mom's words that you are not helpless, and encourage you to keep looking for the hand of our good, loving, wise, and sovereign God in the midst of chaos, and to be His ambassador to the people He has placed in your life.

    Scott & Kelly

  3. Mackenzie - You have a sweet way about you that you WILL be helping your patients, just not in the traditional way you are used to. I'm glad you're having fun. Miss ya!