| 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.
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.