Too little, too late

Categories Medical, Niger

The maternity nursing station was empty that morning. I found someone and asked where everyone was. “A baby… premature”. In the delivery room the activity was centered around a tiny bundle. Oxygen connected, a cannula in a hair-like vessel, counting drops of glucose water infusion. The baby was four hours old and for such a miniscule person he was doing well. He was pink and wriggling, and his chest rose and fell without significant effort. Perhaps there was hope?

Sick babies need to be “warm, wet, and sweet”, and we had arranged an overhead heater, a glucose drip and precautionary intravenous antibiotics. Time to check the weight. The midwife drew a breath as we saw the number on the scales settle – only 842g. The odds were stacked against this baby here in this environment. The mother who had given birth so rapidly at about six months gestation lay on the bed on the opposite side of the room.

It was later that morning that I heard the news. He had died. Too little.

Another morning at Galmi, and again the nurses station was strangely quiet. I found the midwife and nursing assistant in the emergency room. They looked concerned and were trying hard to get an IV cannula in a woman’s arm. For a split second my attention was on the arm and the vein, until my gaze shifted upwards. The colour was not right. She was not breathing. I put my stethescope on her chest and felt for a pulse. There was none.

The story came from the relatives and the midwives. She gave birth two days ago at home to a stillborn baby. There was bleeding. She had fevers and was unwell. Overnight she was a lot worse. Her family brought her to Galmi in desparation but she died soon after arriving. The inside of her eyelids gave the reason – they were completely white. She was severely anaemic from blood loss and malaria.

If only she had come earlier we could have helped. Too late.

Tragedy is a part of life here. But at Galmi Hospital there is hope. Every day the staff administer critical medicines, give lifesaving blood transfusions, and perform a wide range of surgery. God loves people, and the care given at Galmi demonstrates God’s love in action.

Please pray for Galmi Hospital where the story so often is “too little, too late”. To get involved and contribute, you can click here.

Andy is a GP obstetrician living in remote Northern Territory, Australia. He is totally outnumbered by girls in his family - one wife, 3 daughters, 2 chooks.

6 thoughts on “Too little, too late

    1. I wonder the same thing Tim. Hope you and Joy are well. We think of you both often and look forward to one day catching up. Take care xx

  1. hi Andy and Cathy,
    ouch, it hurts my heart to read about it. I hope you can find lots of joy in your girls having such a great time. I would give anything to be there when they arrive home to Nhulunbuy and see their new confidence. You must be getting close to leaving if you’re sticking to your 2 month plan… Love to you all xxxxxx

    1. Thanks Steph, we are on the way home now. The girls are sad that your boys won’t be there to play with when they get home. Hope all is well, hi to the family

  2. How am I just now finding out that you have a blog??

    This post is beautiful: Tragedy is a part of life here. But at Galmi Hospital there is hope . . . . God’s love in action.

    We are so thankful that you came and brought your wonderful family with you! You are missed!

  3. I wonder the very same thing as your Dad, Tim. I really do not know how you do it Andy. I would be totally rubbish and I have very good insight! I’d probably spend the whole time crying. I thank God he is leading and guiding you and there with you in the sad and darker times. I also thank God for you and your beautiful family. I am so thankful for God’s hope. xxx

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