Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mom, Mom, Mom

Who are the people in your life who you owe eternal gratitude?  

Probably one of them is your Mother!  

She carried you for 9 miserable months.  She agonized with pain in childbirth.  She fed you.  She wiped your butt.  She fed you.  She wiped your butt.  She fed you.  She wiped your butt.  

She lost sleep every night while you were little….and then probably more after you became a teenager!

My mother is an important part of my life.  I love my Mom!

Your mother is an important part of your life.  You owe everything to her.  Without her, you wouldn’t have existed.  

There are mothers here who face HUGE risks just for the chance to have a child like you.  We live in Chad.  To be pregnant here is probably riskier than walking down a dark ally alone next to a crime scene on CSI.  Chances are that you will die 1 out of 50 pregnancies (depending on which statistics you use, if you even believe them here).  One out of every eleven Chadian women die in childbirth.  And all this is to give birth to children who have a 21% chance of dying before the age of five.

I’ve had 7 maternal mortalities this year alone.  It’s only May.  

And we are the good hospital.  

Seriously.  It’s sobering.  

Just last night I had a uterine rupture.  She had been in labor since the morning on her eighth baby.  She came from a bush health center.  They referred her to the district hospital, Lai (20 km from us).  Lai put a foley in her, shaved her, and referred her to us.  

Bumpy roads.  

She arrived with a BP of 60/40 with an arm presentation of a dead baby.  I was planning on turning the baby and delivering vaginally when I touched her belly and could tell that she had a ruptured uterus.  I called in the OR team and we saved her life.  She had 2 liters of blood in her belly.  She had been ruptured for several hours.  She should have died.    

It’s sobering to be part of this fight for mothers.  

That’s why we are trying to improve things here.  Each time a mother comes to her prenatal visits here it improves her chances of survival.  Each time a mother delivers at our hospital, it improves her chances of survival.  Not because we are that good, but because care elsewhere is so bad, or simply not there.  

How do we get them to come?

Through day to day teaching in the village with our Project 21.  Zach and Charis are two Public Health organizers who are heading up this important project this year.  Loma Linda University’s Global Health Institute is helping them continue to stay here by paying a small stipend and part of their school loans.

Every delivery is free.  Every c-section is free.  

We give bribes for delivering at our hospital.  Every woman who delivers here gets baby clothes and a water bottle, if we have them.  It might seem like nothing, but it may be the only present she gets for her baby.  They don’t throw baby showers here! And I’ve never seen a diaper.  (Don’t believe that lie that all you need is boob and diapers.  Really, all you need is boob.)

So it’s time to finish what’s started!  We had some generous donors give money for a new maternity ward and delivery suite.  The shell is up and beautiful!  The inside walls are actually finished and painted inside.  

But I still can’t move in!  There’s still plumbing and electric to finish.  

While we wait for our plumber and electrician to return from his annual leave, we can finish the details.  He’s only one person, and we’ve kept him too busy with everything going on!

We need some tables, desks, shelving, curtains to separate the delivery beds, and benches.

It’s almost finished!!!  

For now we continue to do deliveries in a room the size of a master bathroom.  Often we have 2 or 3 mothers laboring in this tiny, sweaty enclosure, sometimes multiple mothers laboring on the floor.  But out this armpit, we help bring life.  We help save mothers’ lives.  We help save babies’ lives.  

Tell your mom you love her.  (Warning: Gratuitous plea for financial help coming…) Send a check to AHI.  Note the sidebar to our blog for donations to AHI, please mark "Bere Adventist Hospital."


  1. Happy Mothers Day, Danae!
    I'll be sending money for your OB ward.

  2. Hi. I came across your blog last week via Dr. Appel's blog, after reading his book. I'm a nursing student in Colorado hoping to end up in Africa someday. Thank you for sharing so openly and realistically about what it is like. I'll be praying that you are able to get your new ward operational soon.