Saturday, July 16, 2011


Abuk came to see me on Monday. She was terribly sick and had been that way for a week and a half. But she lived so far away, she wasn’t able to come earlier.

She was expecting her second child and was term. She could deliver any day.

I diagnosed her with malaria and dysentery and gave her the medicines, praying she would not start labor until they were finished.

But that didn’t happen.

At first light, she was back in the clinic and pushing. And would you believe it... she was fully! 

Listening to her baby’s heartbeat waver and peak irregularly, I knew we had a problem. He was showing signs of severe compromise with erratic variables and late decelerations.

I called for Sarah and Margaret. I wanted as many hands available as possible. Images of Nyiriak’s birth crowded my thoughts.        

--Lord, please don’t let me have two babies die in a row. Please!

It wasn’t long before her precious boy was born.

He came out covered in thick meconium. Limp, cyanotic and with just the slightest will to live, he didn’t do much but lay there listlessly.

--Lord, help this baby to breathe!

With both Sarah and Margaret right there, we were able to work on him quickly. Sarah got the oxygen machine set up and flowing; Margaret breathed for him and stimulated him like mad; and I tried to stay focused on Abuk.

She delivered her placenta before he was fully recovered. Although we got him breathing, we couldn’t keep him warm.

So I asked Abuk to do Kangaroo care. She complied at first, but eventually decided it was too much trouble.

Confused I tried to explain to her that it was important for her baby to live. But she didn’t seem to care.

Was she just too tired?

Fortunately, her brother volunteered to do it for her baby instead. He stripped off his shirt in haste and happily took the tot in his arms. It was so amazing to watch!

So few Dinka men help in such matters. What a delight to see this exception!

Once her boy’s temperature stabilized, she was able to breastfeed without any difficulties. We watched them both the rest of the day, and discharged them with strict instructions to return if anything went wrong.

In my heart, I was ecstatic. Finally a baby that would live. The resuscitation worked!

However, the next afternoon she returned saying her baby had a fever. Sure enough, he was showing signs of neonatal sepsis which was probably due to meconium aspiration.

We admitted him for treatment and observation. And I started praying hard.

But I found out the next morning that Abuk had discharged herself in the middle of the night. I was told that she said she didn’t see her baby getting better so she refused to stay.

I haven’t seen them since.

Admittedly, I’m disappointed. I wish I could have found a way to communicate to her that this baby was going to live... he just needed the right medicines and time.

Please pray for Abuk, her son, and the rest of her family. Pray that this boy might thrive despite not getting the rest of the medicines he needed. Thanks.