It was Thursday morning - Isaac and I were helping to rearrange the staff in the outpatient clinic as a number of staff informed us the day before that they were leaving. Isaac had been helping in triage, I was in the ward, recording the weights of the eight tiny neonates that I had just measured. A staff member came in and asked me to weigh another tiny baby who had just arrived at the clinic (they were too small for our digital scales in triage). The baby was 21 days old, born premature at an estimated six months gestation. The baby weighed just 1.3kg. They hadn't been feeding well, so the family had travelled from their village looking for medical help.
Severely dehydrated, the baby was soon admitted to the ward, with an urgent plan for IV fluids and antibiotics. One of the ward staff, Gai, took the baby a few meters away to insert an IV line. Minutes later, he came in from the ward veranda carrying the baby who had just stopped breathing. Isaac and I were literally standing right next to the emergency room. We quickly started to stimulate the baby and breathe for them using the bag-mask and oxygen. I listened to their heart and it was incredibly slow for a baby this small, and so we started full CPR.
After some minutes, the baby started breathing on their own again. Their heart rate came up, and the team inserted an IV line and gave fluids to start rehydrating them. Two weeks on, and the baby is doing exceptionally well. If this baby had not been brought to the clinic when they did, and had they not been in the ward at the time they arrested (with Gai looking right at them), they would have certainly died. I am not trying to paint us as heroes, but more illustrate how our skills and knowledge can be so perfectly used to help the people of Tonj. Even the fact that Isaac was standing there with me (when he would usually be home in the ‘office’) suggests that God was involved here! Full CPR on a neonate is not an everyday occurrence, and I love that we were used to help guide the local staff in this situation.
I love that our ward is such a place of hope; and that those in need can be met with a team of people that truly care and work to demonstrate God's extraordinary love in such a practical way. Further, our patients and families have the chance to hear the gospel and really understand WHY it is that we do this work.
Isaac & Rebekah