We are very sad to say good-bye to Baby Ashley Manzano who has become a big part of our lives over these past four months. Ashley went home to be with Jesus on Wednesday August 28 after a lifelong battle with repeated lung infections that were never diagnosed.
Ashley was born at our clinic on March 18, 2012 and was transported to the hospital immediately for breathing difficulties. Ashley’s mother Julies never came back for her follow-up check-ups at the clinic and we didn’t see her again until over a year later.
This April Julies and Ashley came to attend a Well-Baby seminar at our clinic. Ashley was more than a year old then and still only weighed 10 pounds. She also seemed to be suffering from severe pneumonia. Julies told us that she had been back and forth to various doctors to try to get help her for her daughter but was continually told that it was her own fault that Ashley was sick because she was malnourished. Julies told us that she tried to go to the community health center to ask if they could help and the midwife just looked at Ashley and looked back at Julies with condemnation and said “It’s severe malnutrition!” As a last resort Julies brought Ashely to us to see if we could do anything to help.
For the last four months Ashley was a big part of my life. I tried to get a concrete diagnosis for her condition but she kept having these terrible bouts of pneumonia that we had to deal with. Julies tried to get Ashley’s weight up by giving her high protein milk. Ashley’s dad found them a safer place to live that gave them some protection from the weather. Ashley was hospitalized four times in the last four months, each time getting weaker. When we took Ashley for her third admission to the hospital I spoke quite forcibly and told the doctor that it was NOT MALNUTRITION! I then heard one doctor whisper to another that it was probably Cystic Fibrosis. We never did have a chance to take her to Manila for further testing – I don’t know if she would have made it back even if we had.
Last Wednesday morning Ashley was at home with her mom. Julies was getting ready to take her to the hospital again and as she was getting dressed she heard Ashley call out “Mama”. When she turned around Ashley had stopped breathing. She rushed her to the hospital where she could not be resuscitated. My social worker Kate and I arrived a few minutes later to hold Julies and cry with her. I still cry every time I think of Julies holding her precious Ashley in her arms, calling out to her to ‘wake up’.
Sometimes I get so sad and discouraged with the lack of medical care available here in the Philippines. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of diagnostic tools available, but the blame for childhood illnesses is usually shifted to the parents; they are not doing enough or they are doing something wrong. With this blame comes enough guilt and grieving to break your heart.
Please pray for Julies, her husband and her three other children. Please pray that they will find peace in knowing that Ashley’s suffering is over and she is waiting to see them again. Please pray that they will find freedom from guilt and condemnation in the arms of Jesus.