Mission Perspective: Five Years Old

“It’s been this way for 40 years. He had a fever when he was five years old.”

He had a fever when he was five years old. When I was five and had a fever, I climbed into bed with my parents. No place was safer for any of us. Nestled in between them, I didn’t worry about my fever. And they didn’t worry about polio, exposure to heavy metals, groundwater contamination...


He had a fever when he was five years old. His parents worried, as mine did. But with different worries. Their son, his foot turning inward. The struggles ahead. My parents watched me from the sidelines at a basketball game. His parents watched him struggle to walk.

Forty years later, now a father myself. My heart aches for the man on the gurney. His ankle pushed, prodded, bent, and twisted. My heart breaks for his parents. To me, their sadness across the generations drowns out the voices of the doctors conferring and then recommending surgery to reconstruct their son’s ankle.

Outside the exam room, I see my daughter in the waiting room. It’s her first trip outside the United States. She leads a five-year-old girl with a clubfoot deformity into the adjoining screening room. I remember a fever my daughter had when she was five. I hug her, then call for the next patient.

— Chris Corrigan