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Delivering Babies in South Sudan

South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world (1 in 7).  As His House of Hope has started delivering babies, we regularly see cases that highlight why that is true.  When a baby or mother dies, we pray with them and attend the funeral if possible.  When a death is avoided, we are quick to say "Shukran ta Rabuna Tanina Kweys" (Thanks to our good God!).  We pray before, during, and after these difficult cases, and our prayer is that the "labor prompted by love" (1 Thess 1:3) that occurs at HHH will lead more people to trust fully in the hope that is found in Jesus.

Some recent cases at HHH (in parentheses are some of the reasons for the high maternal mortality here):

 

  • A mama delivering her 9th baby comes to the hospital after delivering the previous 8 at home.  The baby is large, and in a breech position.  Drs. Perry and Poole decide to deliver by C-section, and a 4.1 kg (9#2oz) girl is delivered, who requires more than an hour of intensive resuscitation.  A day after birth, baby is still on oxygen but is doing better and able to feed. (Breech presentation, large baby)
  • A woman pregnant with her 8th child but only 7 months along comes to the hospital because she is having labour pains and has not felt the baby move for one week.  Ultrasound confirms that baby is not alive, is breech, and exam shows a bulging bag of waters, apparently dilated.  Her blood count is low, but transfusion is not available as the lab tech is unable to get to the hospital due to a rainstorm and it being late at night.  The patient is ruptured, the fluid filled with pus, and cervix then felt to be too tight to safely deliver baby quickly and avoid risk of mother hemorrhaging.  A C-section is performed, and the mother does well.  Her blood count actually went up the next day, likely due to a temperamental lab machine.  (Fetal death, breech, chorioamnionitis/infection, severe anemia)
  • A mother presents to the hospital 4 hours after delivering a baby (who was doing well) at home, with a large amount of bleeding reported.  She is agitated, has still not delivered the placenta, and has some bleeding.  She is taken to the delivery room for removal of the placenta and control of bleeding.  The placenta easily comes out, but the patient dies just as it is removed due to near complete loss of her blood volume. (Post-partum hemorrhage)
  • A woman is pushing her baby out, but her pelvis is too small and baby's heart rate begins dropping.  Decision is made to go to C-section, and baby is delivered and resuscitated successfully.  (Obstructed labor due to small pelvis relative to baby-- a very common occurrence)
  • A first time mother-to-be presents in active labor, but cervix is only dilated to 4cm (less than halfway).  After monitoring progress for an hour, she was 5cm, so the doctor (Dr. Perry) decided to go to church (about 250 meters away) for a bit.  An hour later, he receives a call that the baby is out.  The cook made it to the bedside first and delivered the baby, while the nurse was busy cutting the cord when the doctor arrived!  (Illustrating that sometimes the doctor is NOT needed, and the importance of cross-training staff.)  Dr. Perry offered to do the cooking the next day since she did his job that day, but in the end he did not, as everyone realized that might be harmful to the patients' health.
There are many issues which make delivering healthy babies here in South Sudan a very difficult undertaking.  There are the medical reasons above, which are then complicated by cultural, social, economic, and spiritual barriers that limit people coming to the hospital for the care they need.  For example, a woman is thought to be "courageous" if she delivers at home, while at the same time not costing her husband any hospital fees.  Once the patient is at the hospital, the struggle for us is making sure there is adequate staff and supplies to provide good care.  Due to the many years of war, there are few trained medical personnel in South Sudan, making it hard to find and maintain a good indigenous crew.  The regulations and costs of importing medicines and supplies into a country that produces none of these items for itself makes for an exhaustive process-- one that is barely a second thought in the West.

Please pray with us for these challenges-- medical, cultural, logistical, and spiritual.  Thanks for standing with us in this battle!

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 19:16

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Share the gospel of Jesus Christ and strengthen His Church through medical care and education, discipleship, and loving the people of South Sudan as a family.

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