Picture living in Dourbali and expecting your first baby. You’ve been looking forward to becoming a mum, but months of trepidation and excitement culminate in an unexpected moment – a moment that comes much too soon.
Dourbali is in Chad, a country that has the second highest maternal mortality rate and the sixth highest infant mortality rate in the world. Even if you both survive the premature labour, there’s still a one in six chance that your baby will die before their fifth birthday.
Do you lose hope?
Ismina’s little girl was born two months too early. She thought her baby was too weak to survive.
At two weeks old, the baby weighed just 1.2 kilograms. That’s two pounds six ounces. Being so tiny meant it was difficult for Ismina to feed her. She grew very dehydrated and was struggling to breathe. Fearful that they would lose their baby, Ismina and her husband travelled from Dourbali to Guinebor II Hospital (G2), near N’Djamena, desperately seeking help.
BMS World Mission nurse Rebecca North, who works at G2, was shocked when she saw the baby. “She was just like a little rag doll, it took my breath away,” she says.
The baby’s chances of recovery didn’t look good, and what small hope there was quickly faded as, soon after arriving at G2, she stopped breathing. A two week old child losing her battle for life.
Rebecca and BMS doctor Mark Hotchkin set about resuscitating their little patient and thankfully she began to breathe again.
“From that moment on, my day, and then much of the weekend, passed in a blur of giving fluids, antibiotics, monitoring her heart rate, oxygen levels and wrapping her up in yet more blankets, hats, jumpers and booties to ward off the chilly 25°C nights!” says Rebecca.
On Monday, the little baby, who had been so close to death just three days earlier, was drinking all her required milk and was taken off her drip. She was going to be okay.
“If she had stayed at home she would have died,” says Rebecca. “It makes the work here worthwhile when we have little ones like this recover, and it affirms to me why we are here. Her parents are over the moon. It’s just so exciting.”
Ismina has decided to name her precious daughter Rebecca, after the nurse who helped to save her life.
A second miniature miracle
On Sunday evening, a lady who had already lost two babies at birth came to G2 needing an emergency caesarean. Rebecca and the team thought they may already be too late to save this child too.
The baby was born not breathing and with a very weak pulse, but after about 20 minutes of resuscitation her heart rate picked up and she began to take feeble breaths. Rebecca was running between anaesthetising the mother and helping to resuscitate the baby.
“Then we heard the most amazing noise ever,” says Rebecca. “A surprisingly strong cry! Our whoops of joy and delight joined the baby’s cries to make the operating room a spontaneous party of celebration!
“Although these two little babies are miniature miracles, the miracles were not miniature!”
We want to hear more stories like baby Rebecca’s – of lives saved, hope found and joy discovered.
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