The Injustice of Maternal Death

Yesterday I was contacted by a good friend of mine who was working at a mobile clinic in a rural area of the mountains about 5 hours from us. During the clinic they had been brought a mother who had recently given birth, and her tiny newborn twins. Emily is a nurse and immediately knew that all 3 of the patients were critically sick and needed to get to help as soon as possible. Unfortunately, being in such a rural area, options for transportation were slim.

Once again we were able to turn to Hero for help, and they sent an ambulance several hours outside of the city to pick up and transport the three. Mama was accepted by a hospital on the other side of Port Au Prince while the twins, weighing about 4lbs each were brought up the mountain to our NICU. 

The babies arrived just before 10pm last night and our wonderful medical staff got right to work stabilizing them and getting them warmed up. It was very clear that if they had not made it to us when they did they probably would not have survived. Instead, they were tucked into a warm bed and watched over by our dedicated staff members. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

This morning as the sun rose over our tiny caribbean island home the light through the window of our NICU shined on the toes of 2 tiny new orphans. They made it to the help they needed but their mama did not. By the time she got from her home deep in the mountains to the care of a doctor they were unable to save her life.

She died late last night.

Today I am heavy for these 2 babies and what that means for them. Statistically, when a newborn in the developing world loses their mother, their chances of survival is immediately and drastically reduced. Add in their very low birth weights and the fact that they live so far away from sufficient health care facilities and you have a recipe for disaster.

I am innately aware of the fragility of the balance that they are hanging in right now.

I am aware and at the same time I am filled with optimism.

Because these babies didn’t just make their way to a facility to provide the emergency care that they needed last night, they made their way to a place that cares deeply for them.

A place that will fight to see them come out on the other side of this nightmare with hope, and LIFE.

A place that will do everything in it’s power to keep these babies out of an institution, and see them grow up in the presence of people who’s own blood runs through their veins.

A place that will envelop their young daddy in education and grace as he learns to care for his son and daughter.

A place that will stand on this middle ground and fight with them, and for them.

A place that you have provided.

Every single one of you who sacrifices so that you can send your hard earned dollars to us, you are the reason that we could say yes to this family. You are what enables us to always be here to fight these big battles. We could not do this without you.

Today in our 6 bed NICU we have 7 tiny newborns sleeping soundly. 4 of those 7 babies lost their mothers during childbirth or in the days immediately following. Lack of prenatal care and good delivery options is a massive problem for many women here, and for many families, welcoming a new baby is one of the most dangerous things that they can do.

I am inspired to provide care for our little ones, but I am also inspired to do everything I can to fight this injustice of maternal death.

Today my part in that fight that looks like me pointing you in the direction of 2 organizations that I believe deeply in.

Olive Tree Projects is a program in Jacmel, Haiti that has a midwifery center and provides lifesaving care to countless mothers and babies in their area.

Heartline is another ministry that supports a large prenatal program as well as birth center.

As you support our organization and our efforts I encourage you to check out the 2 organizations mentioned and consider making a donation to them as well, in honor of the mothers of all of our little babies who did not have access to the care that they so desperately needed.

Today two babies woke up for the first time without the person who they need more than anyone else in the world. We are heartbroken for them and their loss. We are also inspired, because they woke up surrounded by a group of men and women who now love them and are committed to them and their future.

If any beauty will be found among the ashes of this tragic story I for one and very thankful to have a front row seat to it’s unfolding.

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