My brother almost died when he was a new-born. Though healthy at birth, it soon became apparent that he was having serious problems. Increasingly emaciated and severely dehydrated, he was suffering from chronic diarrhea. As a result, lactose – the one thing he relied on almost more than anything – could not be digested. The diarrhea got worse and worse; he grew thinner and thinner.
Biologically speaking, this is what was happening to him: diarrhea is brought about when the mechanism controlling fluid balance in the intestine is disturbed. The most common causes of this are toxins secreted by bacteria, or damage to the lining of the bowel by bacteria. My brother was experiencing the latter due to a bout of gastroenteritis. As a result, his body was releasing excessive amounts of essential fluids – water and electrolytes. The loss of these fluids was literally draining the life out of him. The electrolyte imbalance could well have begun to damage his kidneys and cause his heart to beat irregularly. Untreated this would have killed him.
For a while my parents weren’t sure if he would live. We were living in Morocco at the time, where healthcare is nowhere near the quality most of us have access to. However, in the end, they were able to diagnose the problem and treat it with a simple fluid replacement program. My brother’s life was saved. He now lives in Leicester in the UK, is married, and is training to become a doctor. He also happens to be one of my best friends and one of the kindest and most gentle people you’ll ever meet.
My brother lived. Millions of other children don’t. UNICEF estimates that number to be around 1.5 million annually.
Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death for children under 5 globally.
Bringing the Global to the Personal
If you follow my posts for Jolkona, you’ll know I have a penchant for telling personal anecdotes. I do this for a reason. Statistics are harrowing, yes. 1.5 million children is as incomprehensible as it is sickening. But I’m of the mind that you cannot measure suffering on the scale of figures. Suffering is suffering, for 1.5 million mothers as it is for one. So I share these parts of my life with you because I want you to understand that it’s the people behind the statistic who matter. It is they who suffer, who die, who mourn.
At Jolkona we want to invite you into the stories behind the statistics. So today I’m inviting you into the stories of children in India. Give $10 to save one child from diarrhea and we’ll send you the discharge certificate of the child whose treatment you provided. Even better, this month we’re running our Give Health matching campaign so we’ll double your donation and send you a second discharge certificate.
For the price of less than a movie ticket you save two lives. Two families spared from tragedy and suffering. Two stories you become a part of. It is a beautiful thing.
I care about this project because I am thankful that my family had access to the simple medical care that saved my brother’s life, and because I believe it is a terrible injustice that a child should die of something so banal, something so easily treatable as diarrhea. Give to this project. Give Health today.
You can also support this project by coming to our Socializing For Social Change event on Thursday July 26th. Tickets costs $10, the total of which goes to one of three global health projects of your choice. Saving a child from diarrhea is one of them.