Two nurses rush into the acute room of the new born unit of Pumwani maternity hospital, “Daktari! Please! Oxygen!”, not sure who shouted, one nurse is carrying a blue baby with no obvious signs of life. “Not good..” is my first thought.
We make space on the resuscitaire and with the meticulous synchrony that surrounds resuscitation, the two nurses and Daktari (Kiswahili for doctor) restore colour, warmth, heartbeat and spontaneous breathing to Baby Ann (mother’s name), female, 3Kgs.
Now I can take in the two nurses.
Sister Pamela and Sister Sheila from Bahati Health Centre in Nairobi; Sister Sheila who was carrying the baby, is the more animated one and perhaps as a result is wearing no shoes (‘..there was no time for boots!’ is her answer on query). Sister Pamela uses few words and is keen on details.
In the rhythm that comes from familiarity, they narrate the story of Ann, a first time mother who despite presenting with a ‘perfect’ presentation and labour, could not find the maternal effort required to push her baby. Sister Pamela and Sister Sheila were the mid-wives caring for Ann during her labour, above encouragement, administering fluids and augmenting her labour, were wishing they could take Ann’s place and push the baby out for her.
The labour was prolonged, the baby was born flat. Bahati Health Centre did not have oxygen on this day; the ambulance was going to take too long to get there and then it would have to prepare for the transfer of the baby to the nearest facility with oxygen.
Time is life in this case. Every second lost is compromise to the baby. There was no room for waiting.
Sister Sheila and Sister Pamela make a quick decision; drive the baby to Pumwani maternity hospital themselves. Sister Sheila drives, while Sister Pamela carries out the Basic life support and keeps the baby warm. Car hazards on, gloves on, repeated prayers repeating and with all the warmth available they went!
Baby Ann is today full of life and I hope someone one day tells her about these incredible women who saved her life.
Kenya has its heroes!
This article has been republished with kind permission.
Original article peremendemovement.com