"Why Can't I Breathe?": One Child's Journey to Get a Diagnosis and Survive the Coronavirus

05/19/20

Taylor* felt a sudden, severe pain in her chest. She couldn’t breathe. 

 
Not again, she thought.
 
This wasn’t the first time this had happened, but Taylor had no idea why it kept happening to her. She was only a teenager.
 
She was rushed to the hospital once again. Taylor recovered but left the hospital without any more knowledge about her condition. How was she going to stop this from happening again? 
 
Taylor had been missing school because of these hospital visits. Her life was completely unpredictable. That is, until Miss Magalie stepped in.
 
Miss Magalie is a nurse at Children of the Nations (COTN). Taylor became a part of COTN when she was 14 years old. She had been living with her family of six in a mud house that was damaged by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
 
Miss Magalie was the first one to suggest that Taylor might have Sickle Cell Anemia. She referred Taylor to a local Haitian doctor who was finally able to give Taylor an official diagnosis and a treatment plan.
 
Miss Magalie helps oversee Taylor’s treatment plan, ensuring she has access to the care and treatments she needs to be physically healthy. 
 
 
But just as Taylor had started to find some clarity, her life was upended once again. 
 
The coronavirus had reached Haiti. 
 
People with Sickle Cell Anemia do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to their entire body. Their immune systems are also affected, and this leaves them vulnerable to infection. Taylor is at high risk for developing severe complications of COVID-19 if she contracts the virus. 
 
Self-isolation is one of the most effective methods of protecting people from the virus, especially those with underlying conditions like Taylor. But this was not an option for Taylor and her family. They rely on frequent trips to the market in order to keep their family fed. 
 
Soon, the coronavirus made the price of food skyrocket in Haiti, and Taylor’s family was scared they would not be able to feed their three children. 
 
But there was hope. When the virus hit, COTN received enough donations to secure non-perishable food before the stores ran out. 
 
Taylor’s family received enough food to keep Taylor well-fed and prevent her from having to leave her home for a month. 
 
Taylor is also in her final year of school. Because of the school closures, she must now study for her final exams from home. Taylor said, “For me, studying at home feels like a waste of time, almost a defeat.” 
 
Staff are coming up with creative ways to help continue education at home, such as WhatsApp and providing radios that children can use to listen to lessons.
 
Urgent medical care is being provided as needed to the children in Haiti. This continued access to care is vital to Taylor’s health. She has already come into the clinic for the routine care associated with Sickle Cell Anemia. 
 
Last week, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Haiti doubled. Children like Taylor need help more than ever. 
 
Your generous support will help Taylor achieve her goal of becoming a gynecologist despite the obstacles caused by her Sickle Cell Anemia and the coronavirus. 
 
She asks, “Please pray for my fragile health, for my spiritual life, and for my future.” 
 
You can help Taylor and other children like her by giving to our Emergency Health Fund. Provide life-saving support to a child in need!
 
*This child’s name and photo has been changed for their privacy