Friday, March 13, 2015

Tongue-tied troubles at TTL

The TTL Safe Home welcomed one of our tiniest babies this week. At 5 weeks and just 2.7 kg, Leboneng has a z-score of -4, indicating critically severe acute malnutrition. Ideally, children should have a z-score around the median for their height/weight, but this little guy is 4 standard deviations below the median. Leboneng's mother had complications following his birth, and was only able to breastfeed for 3 days before being taken to the nearest hospital for medical attention. Little Leboneng was left in the care of his adult sister, who could not afford formula and supplemented Leboneng only with water and sugar. Fortunately, Village Health Workers in his village alerted TTL Outreach staff of the baby's need for assistance while they were doing assessments at a nearby clinic. Our Outreach staff quickly recognised Leboneng's critical level of malnutrition, and brought him back to the TTL Safe Home immediately.

The Safe Home Supervisor 'M'e Lehela feeds Leboneng using a medicine syringe. 
Once Leboneng arrived at the Safe Home, we realised that there was another obstacle in the way of his eating and gaining weight. Leboneng has ankyloglossia, which is also known as being 'tongue-tied'. There is a short band of tissue tethering the bottom of his tongue's tip to the floor of his mouth. It is a condition which is present at birth, and it restricts the tongue's range of motion. This can result in difficulty eating, speaking, swallowing, and breast feeding. Sometimes the band of tissue can loosen over time and resolve on its own, and other times needs to be treated with surgery. We are already noticing the difficulty Leboneng has when bottle feeding as the process appears distressing for him. To make sure this little guy is getting the nutrition his vulnerable body needs so desperately, we are feeding him formula through a syringe. With 9 other children in the Safe Home, the Bo'm'e have their hands full. No matter what it takes or how long it takes, the team here will ensure that Leboneng grows stronger and healthier everyday!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cleft Palate Conundrum

Two year old Seeiso waddled into our lives in November 2014 with severe malnutrition and an untreated cleft palate. At 7 months old a doctor visited his local clinic and identified the cleft palate and recorded it in his health book. However, the condition was not explained to the clinic staff and, as they did not know what it meant, it was ignored.

We found Seeiso whilst on Outreach and, at -3SD below median, we immediately admitted him to the Safe Home. Outreach staff reported that he was regurgitating food through his nostrils. We ran a full assessment on Seeiso and reviewed his health book, which is when we saw the doctor's comment about the cleft palate. TTL Safe Home Supervisor, 'M'e Lehela, got right on the case and reported his condition to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital and scheduled a surgery. It is now March and finally the time has come for his surgery. Seeiso has stayed with us at TTL Safe Home since October and we have monitored his health, nutrition and development very closely. He is now a healthy young boy, ready to withstand the wear and tear of surgery. We picked up Seeiso's mother from her home in Thaba Tseka and she stayed with us on campus over the weekend, rekindling her relationship with her son after almost 5 months apart. We then transported both mother and son to Maseru for the operation yesterday. We have arranged accommodation and return transportation for Friday when both mother and son will return to their home village.

We hope this will be a life changing surgery for little Seeiso and we will continue to monitor his recovery and development as we go.