Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A man to fish

'Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men."'
-Luke 5:10

Just as I assumed my call responsibilities a woman named Elis came to the obstetric ward in the late afternoon. She was from a remote part of our province and had been brought to Kudjip along with her “wasmeri” (or guardian) after several days of difficult labor in deep jungle. Her water broke some days before she came, but because of the difficult road, she and her family could not get a car to bring her to the hospital.

When I examined her, it became obvious that her baby had died some time ago and that her body was in shock from an aggressive infection. The smell was unbelievable.

During the long hours of that evening, she endured perhaps the most devastating delivery I have ever seen and nearly bled to death. While I tried to stop the bleeding, nurses around me poured intravenous fluid and oxytocin into the large veins in both of her arms. She received blood transfusions overnight and just about every medicine I could think of to fight the infection. I honestly didn't believe she would see the dawn.

About five in the morning, another lady was sent to Kudjip for a prolonged labor. Vero had been laboring without much progress at a small health center and the nursing officer there appropriately sent her to be taken care of at Kudjip. When I arrived, her baby's heartbeat sounded strong but she was struggling to deliver. After some coached efforts and a little medicine to improve her contractions, she safely delivered a vigorous healthy baby girl.

I checked on Elis, and discovered that despite blood and antibiotics, she was still in shock with a dangerously low blood pressure. I was afraid to clean out her uterus, called a curettage, because her infected womb could rupture if I did so and she would likely be killed in the process. Dr. Erin arrived and assumed her care, packing the uterus and giving yet more medicines and blood to keep her alive.

For Vero, her difficult labor was recognized and she was appropriately and safely referred and delivered at our hospital. For Elis, through not fault of her own, the prolonged labor resulted in the death of her baby, and may yet still claim her life as well.

Such is the nature of childbirth in many of the remote parts of the world.

Some years ago, Kudjip hospital partnered with Samaritan's Purse and New Tribes to conduct maternal health education in Hewa, a remote mountainous jungle region accessible only through planes and helicopters. Susan Kopf, a New Tribes missionary and nurse, had been feeling the burden of the mothers and babies dying there for years. After the visit, one of the village women, Jennifer, became skilled at deliveries and has since delivered over twenty babies in this remote jungle village. (See the full story here)

Last week Jennifer, Susan and three other Hewa ladies came to Kudjip to learn more about safely delivering babies. For most of them, it was the first time they had seen a permanent building. I had the wonderful privilege of teaching them about obstructed labors and then showing them a normal delivery in our maternity ward. These ladies will go back to their village and apply what they have learned in an effort to stem the growing numbers of young lives claimed in childbirth there.


“Give a man to fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

I have always had a burden for teaching. I loved this opportunity to share some of the knowledge and skills I use everyday for the ladies who come to Kudjip to have their babies. But I'm even more excited that what I've done will go into the jungles through these village birth attendants and, perhaps, bring God's healing there and lead the lives of the Hewa people to the one who can teach them to fish for men.

UPDATE:  Susan posted the following on Facebook shortly after these brave young women returned to their village.

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