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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • Cambodian Success Story: A Mother's Life Saved

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 04, 2015

    A 25-year-old Cambodian woman owes her life to a special type of garment that literally hugged the life back into her.

    Your generous gifts provided that life-saving squeeze.

    The woman is alive today because of what’s known as an anti-shock garment, a compression suit that wraps around the body and shunts blood from the lower extremities. The purpose of the garment is to reverse hemorrhaging that can occur after a woman gives birth. Women in developing countries, like Cambodia, are at a greater risk of dying during childbirth, often the result of post-birth hemorrhaging.

    In Cambodia, 250 women die for every 10,000 live births. And while the figure appears high, it could be much worse. Over the past decade, the country has slashed its maternal mortality rate nearly in half because of the use of anti-shock garments.

    One of those women saved by an anti-shock garment was “Kent,” the 25-year-old Cambodian woman. She was pregnant with her first child. While Kent's pregnancy progressed smoothly — aside from some bouts of morning sickness — her condition would eventually take a turn for the worse. 

    During the actual birth — that’s when problems arose. It was at that point when Kent started bleeding uncontrollably.

    Doctors did their best. They tried to repair the sutures, but Kent continued to bleed for an hour and a half. Her condition worsened, and she eventually descended into shock because of the loss of blood.

    After exhausting all other resources, a doctor put Kent into the anti-shock garment and sent her to a larger hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. As the garment hugged her body, she thought she was going to die. Kent’s baby daughter was sent home with relatives, while Kent stayed at the hospital and received five units of blood.

    It took Kent five days to recuperate but, in the end, she lived.

    Cambodia, Medical Teams International, Anti-Shock Garments, infant health
    Kent and her baby daughter, center, sit surrounded by family members. Kent's life was saved during childbirth by what's known as an anti-shock garment.

    Your donations, which ensure that anti-shock garments are prevalent in places like Cambodia, saved Kent’s life. She encourages support for the program, so even more anti-shock garments can be distributed to Cambodian clinics and hospitals.

    Through tears, Kent said she is grateful to be alive and to have a healthy baby. Looking toward the future, Kent said she hopes that one day her daughter grows up to be a doctor or a nurse. And, if that dream becomes a reality, Kent’s daughter will assuredly recognize the life-saving impact of anti-shock garments.

    Medical Teams International development officer Deb Hirsh, who recently traveled to Cambodia, returned with this story.
  • Haiti Success Story: Knowledge Empowers Marie

    by Tyler Graf | Jan 30, 2015

    Haiti, Crochu, community health, family planning

    Marie Lourdes Edgard receives a shot at an MTI-coordinated community health rally post in Haiti.

    When Marie Lourdes Edgard’s husband said she couldn’t go to a clinic to receive health care for herself and her 9-month-old baby, she pleaded.

    The baby needed to be immununized, and Marie needed care as well. But Marie’s husband stood pat. The answer: no.

    That’s not uncommon in Haiti, where what a husband says often goes unquestioned. But sometimes, a little education can make a big difference. After several visits from members of a local mothers’ club, sponsored by Medical Teams International, Marie’s husband finally allowed her to bring the baby to an MTI-backed rally post for immunization.

    While at the rally post, Marie participated in an education program on family planning. It was there that Marie shared something with the nurses that she hadn’t told her husband: That she would like to space out her births. She wanted more control over when she became pregnant. This was not something she could tell her husband.

    To facilitate a conversation on the topic, one of Medical Teams’ promoters accompanied the couple to a counseling session about the importance of family planning. After the discussion, the husband agreed for his wife to adopt a form of contraception.

    Because of the support of Medical Teams’ donors to empower traditionally vulnerable people, Marie is now more in control of her health and the health of her baby. Knowledge is a powerful tool in transforming a person’s health for the better, and Marie is a living example of that. Your dedication matters in the lives of people like Marie.

  • Mobile Dental Story: Hope for a Pain-Free Life

    by Tyler Graf | Jan 28, 2015

    Up and down both sides of Jesse’s face, there’s shooting pain that won’t go away.

    “Hot. Cold. When I’m sleeping,” said Jesse, a 43-year-old patient awaiting his turn in a Medical Teams International Mobile Dental Clinic. “I lose so much sleep with this.”

    The former arborist and logger is used to pain. But this is beyond the pale. It’s standing in the way of his ever kicking an addiction to heroin. Pain got him addicted in the first place.

    Eight years ago, Jesse suffered from a debilitating accident that forever changed his life. As he cut away the top of a tall tree, it snapped off and whipped toward him. His legs and back were pinned, 98 feet in the air, between the tree trunk and the top portion that had fallen back onto him. He broke his back and pelvis; his spleen ruptured.

    He underwent surgeries to repair his injuries and was prescribed opiates to numb the pain. Jesse said he was over-prescribed and that he became addicted to the pills. Soon, he turned to heroin, which was easier to find and cheaper.

    Jesse said he hates his addiction. He also hates the pain in his mouth. The pain, he said, is holding him back from crushing his addition once and for all.

    “I just want to feel normal, get a life,” Jesse said. “I’d rather lay down and die than do this again.”

    Inside Medical Team’s Mobile Dental Clinic, there was hope that Jesse’s pain wouldn’t be a life sentence. There would be a reprieve. Thanks to our donors — you! — volunteer dentists and dentists-in-training can provide life-changing services to people unable to afford dental care, or incapable of finding it. Because of your teamwork, donations and prayers, MTI can serve the most vulnerable populations.

    Jesse knows he has a life ahead of him, a family to reconnect with — four sons, five grandchildren. He'd like to go back to owning a small business. But first, he has to take care of the pain. 

    “This is a bad mindset to have,” Jesse said. “People need to take care of their teeth better. Dental pain is some of the worst pain I’ve ever had — and I had back pain.”

     Mobile Dental, Medical Teams, Clackamas  Service Center, tooth decay

    Jesse thanks you for helping.


  • Mobile Dental Success Story: An Unexpected Patient

    by Tyler Graf | Jan 23, 2015

    Patients of Medical Teams International’s Mobile Dental Program come from all walks of life, and sometimes they can be found in unexpected places.

    That was the case with Dorothy W., a resident of Seaside, Ore. She was working the front counter of a motel in town when volunteers and staff from a Mobile Dental bus checked themselves in for the night. Mobile Dental clinics often travel to rural or outlying areas, where they stay for two nights.

    As the volunteer dentists and hygienists were checking in for the night, they noticed that the pleasant and polite young woman behind the counter didn’t smile. It didn’t take long for them to realize there was a reason why Dorothy was so reserved.

    She was ashamed of her teeth, which were severely decayed.

    The clinic volunteers scheduled Dorothy, a mother of three, to see a local dentist who would provide treatment free of charge. Mobile Dental clinics often team with partner dentists capable of providing dental work too complicated to be completed in the mobile unit. The volunteer dentist completely restored Dorothy’s teeth and, in doing so, restored her outlook on life.

    Seaside, Mobile Dental,

    Mobile Dental, Seaside

    She had wanted to have her front teeth fixed to improve her smile because she is the first person to greet customers at the busy motel where she works. Her new teeth have made her a new person with a sense of confidence.

    Your generous donations lay the groundwork for such unexpected, life-changing miracles to happen. Dorothy thanks you!

  • Liberia Success Story: Family Members Survive Ebola

    by Tyler Graf | Jan 22, 2015

    With the help of Medical Teams International volunteers, several members of the Sackor family in Liberia survived Ebola. But, because few Ebola stories come with completely happy endings, there were losses.

    In the end, two of the family’s children died of the horrible disease, which has infected thousands in West Africa. Nonetheless, the Sackor family’s story underscores the need for well-trained, dedicated general community health volunteers who work to educate people about the threat of Ebola. Your generous donations are the fuel that drives that work.

    The Sackor family’s story began in October, when 5-year-old Ramsey became sick. His grandmother feared he had Ebola, and she was right. He was the first reported case of the disease in Polay Town, part of Sinoe County. At first, his parents refused to divulge the nature of his condition and didn't seek treatment. Eventually, a Medical Teams community health volunteer named Negba convinced the family to take the boy to a hospital. But it was too late for Ramsey, and he died.

    Liberia, Ebola, Medical Teams International, Sinoe County, Polay Town
    Negba, a Community Health Volunteer in Sinoe County, disinfects his hands. He is responsible for educating people on taking measures to prevent the spread of Ebola.

    Even after Ramsey had succumbed to the disease, his family did not explain what actually happened to him. They told no one that their house could still be infected by the disease.

    Knowing others in the community were being put in harm’s way by the family’s silence, including the family members themselves, Negba intensified his educational campaign to convince the Sackor family to be quarantined for 21 days. The family eventually acquiesced to Negba’s request.

    It was during the quarantine that three of the family members — father Dioxin, his wife and their 10-year-old daughter Joanna — came down with symptoms of Ebola. They called nearby health workers for help. An MTI ambulance evacuated the family, including the family’s 13-month-old baby named Anthony. Thankfully, the baby showed no signs of having been infected.

    Under treatment, Dioxin and his wife survived Ebola. However, Joanna wasn’t so lucky, and she later died from the disease. Thirteen-month-old Anthony was the only family member not to have been infected, and Negba’s persistence is likely the reason for that.

    Liberia, Ebola, Medical Teams International, Community Health Volunteers
    The Sackor family, including 13-month-old Anthony, survived Ebola thanks to the help of a Community Health Volunteer. They now take the lead in educating the rest of their community about Ebola prevention.

    Having already lost so much, Anthony’s mother called her baby’s survival “miraculous.” She now realizes that listening to Medical Teams’ community health workers was the difference between life and death. While she lost two children to the ravages of Ebola, Anthony’s survival is a blessing, and his life is a sign that there can be hope even among death.  

    “I am happy to take Anthony in my arms again,” she said. “Thank God for MTI activities in Polay Town, (to) all those who help us to live again. We listened to Negba to still be alive.”

    Since returning from the Ebola Treatment Unit, Dioxin is now enforcing “infection prevention control” measures in Polay Town, using what he learned from Medical Teams’ volunteers. He encourages others to wash their hands regularly, and he asks people to seek medical attention early if they're showing signs of Ebola.

    Each morning, he makes Clorox water for everyone in the community, so they can safely wash their hands when they come back from the farm or other places.

    Your gifts, support and prayers have lifted the Sackor family from a terrible low point and empowered them to help others. Because of your benevolent support, baby Anthony is alive.

    - Jamaima Kollie, an MTI field staff member in Liberia, compiled this story of sadness and survival.

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