The staff was all at the College Christmas banquet, and the program had started when our head Dr came to me and said:"We have a pregnant mother in the ward taking care of her 6 year old child malnurished child, who is now in labor her self. She has had two cecerians so she must have a third. And she is in labor. Please take her to the national hospital to have it done. We do not have a trained surgeon on staff and the risks are two high here. Go now."
I rushed to the ward with one of the men on staff who would do the driving. We picked her up and the nurse told us to take her to "Bottom Hospital" which we did. Apon arrival this young mother was given a black plastic bag and told to proceed to the ward. I went with her to see what the situation was like. As we walked down the halls I was struck by a smell that reminded me of a cattle milking stall. The futher we walked in the more women we saw and the more humid it became. The smell was more like a sweat box than anything else. Their were pregnant women lineing the halls, lieing on bentches and lying on the floor. Some facing the aisle and some toward the wall. Then we came apon a room that was packed solidly with pregant women. All the beds were full and under the beds were others lying like boards on a deck, with barely enough room to turn over. The floor was solid concreate. I began to panic. What is this, how can this be that people would be in such a place as this to bare their children. Has no one seen this situation, does no one care? My heart was torn in two. I finally reach the place where the babies were to be born and their was a nurse. The nurse told me she would take care of the ladie I had brought and perhaps the baby would be delivered in the morning. I turned and walked toward the car. As I got there I asked the driver if there wasn't a better hospital in town where this child could be delivered. He told me we could try central hospital. There was no way I could leave this lady here I would feel responsible for her death if she didnot make it and I felt it was likely she wouldn't make it in these conditions.
I walked back in to the delivery area past all the women in labor, and took the lady I had brought by the hand leading her out. The nurses asked me why and I told them there are to many people waiting for delivery. How could I tell her what I was really thinking. Mainly that this was no place for anyone to deliver a child.
Arriving at central. As we walked down the dark hall ways we came apon a couple men, with rain boots, masks plastic aprons and surgery caps on. They were moping the floor. The sight reminded me of the bird flu movie I saw on TV last year. Great I thought, I have brought her to an even more dangerous place. However as we moved along it was evident that this was a better place for this lady. The nurse wasn't very friendly, but she saw it it that my friend was taken care of and seen by a clinical officer/Doctor. He told me he would have her operated on in the morning and that she would be in a semi private room with two other ladies. I would have to pay about 50 USD for this but to me this was worth it. How could I in good concious leave anyone in the other place. I was so depressed yesterday that I went home to try to process all that I had seen. WE MUST DO SOMETHING. In America we treat our dogs better than these ladies are being treated. We need doctors and we need a hospital wing to take care of these women.
When I went back to the hospital to check if the delivery had taken place and If my friend survived she was coming out of surgery and they told me she had delivered a beautiful baby girl. As I walked down the halls of this hospital I could see that the moppers I had seen the previous night were simply moving mud arround. Please pray that something will be done on behalf of the Malawian people.
Merry Christ Mas. A child is born today!