Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Stories of hope, health and lives transformed.

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  • From the Field: Your support kept Marcela safe.

    by Emily Crowe | Feb 12, 2016

    One of our volunteers, Tom Berridge, just returned from serving in the field in Guatemala. He came back with this amazing story of your impact on one woman- and how it's now helping her entire community:

    Because the births of her first three children had been easy, Marcela expected no difficulty delivering her fourth baby. Accompanied by a midwife in a small, indigenous village Guatemala, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Elias. The birth had been normal... but her placenta still had not been expelled.

    Marcella is a mother counselor herself and had attended MTI trainings. She knew that, after 30 minutes, placenta trapped inside the uterus can lead to dangerous complications: internal bleeding, infection... even death. 

    But she lives two hours up a bumpy road from the nearest hospital. When she called her husband, who was on his way from his job in Guatemala City, he told her to wait at home until he arrived. So she waited.

    Marcela and Elias seven months after the frightening night that could have taken this mother's life.

    Marcela’s husband arrived four hours after the birth. The placenta still hadn't expelled, and she had developed a headache and abdominal pain-- warning signs. She and her husband called the MTI staffer for the village. Luckily, an MTI medical team that included doctors from Faith and Practice was working in a community a half hour away, so an MTI staffer was able to get there quickly in a pickup.

    After hearing the problem, the staffer called an ambulance, put her in the truck, and took her to the doctors on the MTI team in the community down the hill. The doctors didn’t have the equipment to treat her, but the ambulance soon arrived and took her to the clinic in Chicamán, where she was told that they also did not have the necessary equipment, so she continued to Uspantán. She later said that as she rode in the ambulance, she was thinking, “If I die, who will take care of my children? Nobody is going to treat them as well as I treat them.”

    When she arrived at the hospital, she was suffering from shock, and the doctor immediately removed the placenta. Her back and stomach hurt. She was kept in the hospital for two more days to be sure she did not have an infection. Thankfully, her pain soon subsided and she could go home to her family and new baby. Finally, she felt good.

    Now my children are so healthy that other women come and ask me questions so their children can be as healthy as mine.

    Marcela is spreading the word in her community. She has shared her experience with the four other mother counselors in her community, and she is using her story to teach other mothers the importance of seeking immediate help if a placenta has not been expelled after 30 minutes. She encourages other mothers to have their babies at the hospital, and some mothers are taking her advice.

    “Now my children are so healthy that other women come and ask me questions so their children can be as healthy as mine,” she said. “I am sorry I didn’t listen before, but I am telling others to listen to MTI because the things they tell us help with our well-being,” she said.

    “I would like to thank Medical Teams for having people with big hearts who help us,” she told Tom. “We called them and they were here right away to pick me up. People who work for MTI help with all of their heart. Even though the nurses knew I had done wrong by waiting, they were not angry with me but told me to have faith that I would be OK.” She also said she wanted to thank MTI for coming and offering workshops on nutrition and hygiene, where she listens carefully.

    Thanks to you, this mom was able to survive her complicated birth-- and is helping others do the same.

    Help Marcela's story do even more: Share it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Want to directly impact women like Marcela around the world? Donate or volunteer!

  • Tecla: No time to wait

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 10, 2016

    Guatemala, Tecla Senahu, Jan. 2016

    Mother-to-be Tecla is rushed down a bumpy dirt road to the nearest hospital, more than two hours away.

    One week: What a difference it can make. 

    In Tecla’s case, it meant all the difference in the world. She had waited long enough.

    The 27-year-old Guatemalan woman was pregnant for the fourth time and a week past her due date. As she waited she worried. From experience, she knew that the longer she waited for the onset of labor, the more likely it became for serious conditions to develop. 

    During each of her past pregnancies, she suffered bouts of convulsions and dangerously high blood pressure. The condition is known as preeclampsia, and it can lead to organ failure – even death. She suffered from the condition during her most recent pregnancy, too. A doctor had told Tecla that the longer she waited, the more likely it would be for her preeclampsia to worsen. 

    The only cure is to deliver the baby. 

    Tecla was scared. She’d lost one of her four babies during a previous pregnancy. She knew the severity of her condition was real. 

    And so is her seclusion. 

    She lives in a small indigenous village outside the town of Senahu, two hours from the nearest hospital. The only way down to the hospital is over a bumpy, narrow dirt road that snakes around the hill country of Central Guatemala. The problem was, neither Tecla nor her family had access to a vehicle.  

    But villagers knew that health coordinators from Medical Teams International were in the area, visiting a nearby community. As the coordinators were hiking down the hillside back to their vehicle, the villagers confronted them.

    They explained about Tecla and her condition. They spoke with urgency: Tecla needs to see a doctor. She can feel her blood pressure rising, the onset of preeclampsia.

    The coordinators contemplated calling an ambulance. But that would take too long – a four-hour two-way trip. That wouldn’t work, not if Tecla’s condition worsened. Instead, their vehicle would have to act as the ambulance.

    The coordinators put Tecla in the back seat of the truck and called ahead to the hospital. As the sun began descending, the truck took off. Slowly, over a choppy road, with fog limiting visibility, a health coordinator drove Tecla to the hospital.

    At the hospital, a doctor induced labor, and Tecla gave birth at midnight to a healthy, 5-pound baby.

    Because of Medical Teams' regular presence in Tecla’s community, both the young mother and her baby are alive and healthy. Their good health is a blessing and a testament to the generosity of MTI’s donors and the dedication of the field staff, whose fast thinking saves lives.

    Thanks to your generous donations, Tecla and her baby are healthy. When Tecla was at her most vulnerable, your support provided the resources to help. To support more people around the globe who lack access to health care, consider praying or making a donation.
  • Brutally attacked, you're helping Sabasore heal

    by Greta Jarvis | Feb 04, 2016

    Sabasore will never forget that day. He was terrified. He could feel the armed fighters breaking his bones. He had done nothing to provoke their attack—but had no way to make them stop.

    Would he survive this horrific attack?

    Sabasore is 27-years-old and lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In his community, armed skirmishes often leave innocent bystanders dead or seriously hurt. Sabasore was trapped in the middle of one of these dangerous conflicts. The armed fighters broke two bones in one of the young man’s legs. The terrible pain overwhelmed Sabasore, but there was nothing he could to do make them stop. What did these armed fighters want from him? Would he survive this horrific attack?


    Donated medical supplies are sent around the world in our Distribution Centers-- helping people like Sabasore when they desperately need it.

    By God’s grace, Sabasore survived. He hobbled to a clinic called HEAL Africa, one of Medical Team International’s partners. His leg throbbed in agony. The doctors knew he needed surgery.

    Following surgery, his leg was stiff and he couldn’t move it. It’s possible he may never be able to move it properly again. It was crucial that he get the supplies he needed to stay mobile and rehabilitate from the attack—otherwise, this injury could disintegrate his ability to live and work.

    But, a shipment of medical supplies had just arrived at the hospital—supplies you sent. After his surgery, Sabasore received a Velcro leg splint, a comfortable set of crutches, and tools to help recover his strength.

    He may never be able to move his leg properly, but these generous gifts were transformational for this young man who’d survived a harrowing attack that left him permanently injured. For the first time since the attack, Sabasore was overjoyed: “This donation is the best of my life.”

    For the first time since the attack, Sabasore was overjoyed.

    Every year, Medical Teams International receives millions of dollars’ worth of lifesaving medical supplies and medicine from kindhearted donors. These gifts save lives across the globe of people just like Sabasore. Supporters who pray, donate, and volunteer allow for stories of hope in the midst of unthinkable suffering.

    We would be honored to have you join our team. Share this story with family and friends on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Take a moment to pray for those living in areas of violent conflict. Consider donating to provide care and supplies that one day could save a life. Together, we can create a brighter future for all.

  • Three generations touched: The midwife, the mother and the baby

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 01, 2016

    Haiti, Altanise, April 2015

    From left, Jaqueline and Altinise, mother and daughter, hold the baby Altinise birthed during a complicated pregnancy that nearly cost the young woman her life.

    Altinise knew something was wrong.

    The bleeding began following the birth of her daughter, near the rural Haiti community of Crochu.

    For the 23-year-old new mother, the bleeding continued unabated. Altinise began shivering and felt dizzy. She continued to lose blood, and it was evident that something bad was happening, that she was possibly suffering from postpartum hemorrhaging.

    For too many women in Haiti, this is a death sentence.

    But hope was nearby. Watching over Altinise was a birth attendant, someone Medical Teams International trained. Birth attendants in places like Haiti ensure quality maternity care. They save lives in the process. In developing countries, the risks associated with pregnancy and child birth are real. In 2010, more than 287,000 women died during pregnancy or child birth. Another 1.3 million newborns died during the neonatal period.

    In Altinise’s case, her birth attendant wasn’t simply someone from the community – it was her mother, Jaqueline. 

    As Altinise lay dizzy, shivering and bleeding, her mother and birth attendant intervened. Eight months of extensive birth attendant training from the trained staff of Medical Teams International had prepared her for a complication such as this one. She knew that Altinise was exhibiting signs of hemorrhaging and that she was losing an excessive amount of blood.

    Slowly, Jaqueline began massaging Altinise’s abdomen, just above where the uterus is located. This tactic is intended to stunt the flow of blood. Gently, Jaqueline massaged, and she monitored. She also told Altinise to start breastfeeding. Both tactics are intended to prompt a woman’s body to release a hormone that helps keep the uterus intact and stabilizes bleeding.

    These were tactics that Jaqueline learned during her training, and they likely saved her daughter’s life. Soon the bleeding eased, the dizziness disappeared, and the shivering subsided. Altinise’s condition improved.

    Jaqueline shared her story with MTI’s Haiti staff and said just how thankful she was that her daughter and granddaughter were OK. Indeed, three generations of the same family – grandmother, mother and granddaughter – all have you to thank for your amazing support. Without it, Altinise's life would have been left to chance.

    Your generous gifts are making a difference in Haiti. Medical knowledge and training come as a result of your powerful support. Want to empower more women like Altinise and Jaqueline and improve the lives of those affected by conflict, disaster and extreme poverty? You can. Pray for those in need. Or consider donating to efforts to build sustainable health care systems in rural communities like this one in Haiti.

  • Rasha: Refugee, mother, health advocate

    by Emily Crowe | Jan 29, 2016

    Meet Rasha. She is a 22-year old Syrian refugee living in a refugee settlement in Lebanon. But, she's also a mother. And a niece. And someone who, despite everything, is using her time and skills to volunteer with Medical Teams International and help other refugees survive life in the camp.

    After escaping so much danger and heartache in Syria, refugee settlements are no guarantee of safety. Families that were previously leading average, middle-class lives are now trapped without enough food, money and only a thin tent protecting their children or elderly parents from freezing winter storms.

    Rasha, right, meets with local refugee women to provide medical care in the refugee settlement where they live.

    Trauma from the civil war-- and stress from a drastically new life-- have very real repercussions.

    One serious consequence? Stress-induced diabetes and hypertension. Mothers like Moamar, who struggle to find enough food to feed their children, become too exhausted to get out of bed. Girls like Amir become depressed, sick and withdrawn. Everyday tasks become impossibly difficult.

    Without money to get to a clinic-- let alone buy medicine-- dangerous symptoms go unchecked. 

    This would have been the case for Sarah, Rasha's aunt. But, thanks to you-- and Rasha's commitment and enthusiasm to be a community health leader-- Rasha now has the tools she needs to make a difference.

    When Sarah began feeling dizzy, constantly thirsty, and urgently needing to urinate throughout the night, Rasha immediately suspected what was wrong: Diabetes. She quickly brought her aunt to the Medical Teams International clinic for a diagnosis, where doctors confirmed Rasha's suspicions. Now, Sarah has access to crucial medicine and care that keeps her healthy. 

    Because of your support, Rasha was able to learn how to recognize and diagnose some of the most prominent diseases at the camp where she lives-- particularly diabetes and hypertension, silent dangers that can make the challenges of refugee life unbearable.

    Because of Rasha's knowledge and Sarah's willingness to listen-- and your support for life-changing programs like this-- doctors were able to detect Sarah's serious illness and give her the care she needs to stay healthy and safe.

    We are proud to have Rasha on the team. Want to help more people like Rasha and her aunt? Pray for hope and healing around the world. Share Rasha’s story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Consider donating to provide medical supplies and care.