Adoption, Family, HIV/AIDS Education


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Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Mother's Fear

I've been dancing around this...not wanting to post about it, but I think I need to. Something happened this month that I never imagined would and it was very frightening for everyone involved. Yonas, who's just eight, was in PE class at his elementary school; they were playing ball when he and another little boy both went to catch the ball at the same time and they ended up colliding heads...

The phone rang and it was Yonas's school on the other end. It's the call that a mother, let alone a mother with a positive child never wants to get. "Ma'm, you need to come to the school and get Yonas. There's been an accident and it looks like he's going to need stitches."

It gets worse. The child that he collided with also needed to go to the hospital. The accident had left both of them with open wounds, Yonas's just above the eye and the other little boy's was the forehead. My heart stopped. I really never imagined something like this would ever happen. Things like this only happen in the movies. I mean, what are the chances? I'll answer. Slim, but not impossible.

Yonas's school, who are (thankfully) aware of his HIV status, handled everything perfectly. After speaking with the principle and councelor we all decided, even though the probability of HIV transmission was very low, that we should tell the other little boy's parents that Yonas was HIV positive. After all, if the situation were reversed, I'd want to know.

The next call I made was to the little boy's mom. What do you say to a mom who's facing a nightmare like this with her child? I tried to reassure her. Told her her both kids had most likely hit the ground before either one had even started bleeding, told her Yonas was undetectable, meaning the virus in his blood is so low that transmission is highly improbable; I gave her phone numbers and tried to put her in touch with the best ID doctors I know, but I don't think any of this brought her much solace.

Although we did all that we could to assure them (and ourselves) you can imagine there was still a lot of concern, on both sides. There were doctor visits and numerous blood drawings for her child. The pediatric doctor the other mom had taken her son to had never dealt with HIV, so she called the CDC who recommended antiviral therapy as a precautionary measure. For peace of mind, the family opted to put their child on a course of heavy antivirals for three months. This seems like a lot, but I can understand needing that added assurance.

My heart goes out to this mom and this family. These medicines aren't easy to take by any means, and although I know with certainty that her child will be fine...still, this did happen and it has left me feeling pretty helpless.

I'm just so thankful for how this family and Yonas's school handled what could have been such a messy situation with the utmost care and regard for everyone involved.

It's only been three years since our family decided to disclose (read POZ story HERE) and I think about what a blessing that's been and how different this situation may have turned out had we still been hiding our status ... I do believe that things happen for a reason.

That woman's little boy will be fine. He will take the antivirals and then get tested twice more to be certain of a negative result, and then they will put this behind them. There will be no mass hysteria or parents up in arms that a child with HIV has been allowed to attend public school and we'll just go on as before with an even greater appreciation in our hearts for our community and the wonderful school system we have here. Ryan White is a young man whose story and life's work lives inside my heart. I think of him often and how what he went through changed a nation. Somewhere, he's looking down on this with reverence, I'm sure.

And Yonas, my spirited little guy? He'll be fine too–although, he has decided that the next time there's a ball in question–the other kid can have it!

13 comments:

Jennifer said...

Yes, definitely the stuff of nightmares. Glad it was handled well and without mass hysteria.

Daneille said...

Oh, Suzan! My heart goes out to you and the other family! What a blessing that they were willing to handle this without demonizing you and your son!

The McBs said...

Thank you so much for this... read it from the link you posted on yahoo... it's so reassuring to hear such professionalism and delicacy handling the issue at school. Thanks again...

wholetthishappen said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. This has been something that I have been thinking through. We are still in the adoption process, but have been trying to figure out whether we would disclose to our schools, or not. This was a great perspective. I am so grateful t have families going ahead of us who are willing to share and support.

Thanks!

Tova

Anonymous said...

Ugh - what a difficult situation for everybody involved. Of course the other little boy will be fine. I'm happy to hear Yonas is okay.

courtneywrites said...

By the way, did you just post that GMA video? Beautiful, brave. I am in awe of your family.

Molly said...

Wow! It sounds like everyone involved handled the situation really well! But I bet it was scary.

Debut Author, Lover of Books, AIDS advocate and fuzzy animal lover. said...

Thank you for the posts and kind comments. I've really appreciated hearing from everyone...

Andrea said...

Scary, for all involved. Thank goodness it was handled so very well. It's actually given me something to think about. Thank you for sharing!
Andrea

clay said...

The school handle it perfectly....and I know the little guy will be just fine........Thanks for sharing this story,

Chantelle said...

Thank you for sharing this. Certainly must have scared the socks off you when you got that phone call! Glad it was all handled as it should be.

one thankfulmom said...

We had a similar incident, but it was between two of our daughters, one positive and one negative. It took a few phone calls to the infectious disease doc, some agonizing and prayer before we chose not to do ARV's for our negative daughter. The specific incident made it more likely that her blood would have gotten into her positive sister's wound rather than the other way around. The likelihood of her being infected was remote, especially given our positive daughter's undetectable viral load. Yet when we tested her three months later I was very relieved to see the negative result.

Suzan, you handled this with such grace and I'm impressed with how your school managed something that could have easily been mishandled causing grief to both families.

Lisa

Debut Author, Lover of Books, AIDS advocate and fuzzy animal lover. said...

Lisa,

Thank you so much...we are truly blessed as are YOU! I'm glad you shared this important story and how your family handled it perfectly.