Riasoya Jodah, '19
He's tumor free
Three days after my fellowship ended, I got a text message from my former co-workers in our group chat that I couldn't bring myself to leave just yet. It was a picture of a smiling boy swaddled in blankets with tubes resting beneath his nose. The caption read "He's tumor free."
Shawn is an eight-year-old indigenous boy who was admitted to pediatric surgical ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital Cooperation the day I started my Halper International Fellowship in Georgetown, Guyana. He came in with a near lethal snake bite, but my team also found a mass that turned out to be a Wilm's Tumor in his kidney. Shawn, like many other patients that I worked with, lives in a remote village and arrived via medivac to the hospital. It's quite possible that his tumor would have remained undiscovered if he hadn't been forced to seek care due to the snake bite.
His struggle is familiar to the thousands of indigenous people without access to health care in Guyana. After a grueling 10 weeks of biopsies and treatments, Shawn underwent surgery where the tumor was entirely removed. He's back home now; a healthy boy with his family. I receive an updated picture whenever he visits the hospital for a follow-up, and it serves as a reminder of the service I owe to the people of my home.