Florence’s Story: Saving Her and Her Baby’s Life

Florence lives in Kyangwali refugee settlement with her five children and husband. She was pregnant with her sixth when she started having labor complications.

While her husband was away on a journey, Florence began to experience pains in her lower abdomen. She waited the full day for him to come home, but when he had not returned, she went to see her mother.

Thankfully, her mother called the local midwife to check on Florence. Her birth attendant said that Florence could not deliver at home as planned, because the baby was too big, and she wasn’t having enough contractions.

Without appropriate medical attention, Florence and her baby may not survive. Florence’s birth attendant rushed Florence and her mother to Medical Teams’ Malembo Health Center, nearby within the settlement. They arrived late at night, where the health center midwife checked Florence in. Florence was in labor, but facing multiple complications. Since Malembo Health Center does not perform deliveries, she was taken to Medical Teams’ Rwenyewawa Health Center four miles away, where she could receive emergency treatment for her pain.

The health workers at Rwenyewawa examined Florence and diagnosed her with cervical dystocia – obstructed labor and malpositioning.

The midwife on duty realized that Florence and her baby were deteriorating. She called the ambulance right away.

Five minutes later, the ambulance arrived.  Florence was taken to Kyangwali Health Center where they perform emergency caesarian sections.

Florence lies down on the bed in the ambulance before being taken to the Kyangwali Health Center.

When Florence arrived at the Maternal Health Ward at Kyangwali Health Center, Dr. Sarah and her nursing staff were fervently searching for her baby’s heartbeat. They put a drum to Florence’s belly to listen, and heard nothing. Remaining calm, Dr. Sarah called in the radiographer, Erick Ntamu, to see if they could detect the baby’s heartbeat.

Radiographer Erick Ntamu performs a sonogram on Florence, searching for her baby’s heartbeat.

They found the baby’s heartbeat, but it was growing faint. The baby was in distress and, because of his position, would not be able to be delivered naturally. Florence needed an emergency C-section.

Our health staff prepared Florence with pre-surgery care and counseling. Dr. Sarah Akite went straight to the surgical theater next door to prep for surgery.

HIV/Reproductive Health Officer Robert Businge speaks to Florence prior to her surgery.

Rolling Florence to the theater nextdoor on a hospital bed, the doctors prepped her and began to operate, uncertain if her baby would make it.

Dr. Sarah Akite and her assistant operate on Florence in the surgical theater.

After the baby came out, his arm fell limp.

Everyone in the room held their breath, waiting for the baby to take his first one.

A couple of seconds passed, and he lifted his arms and let out a cry. A sigh of relief. He made it – he’s okay.

Florence’s baby boy lifts his arms in the air, taking his first breath after birth.

The baby inhaled too much liquid in his lungs, requiring the nurse to pump liquid out of his lungs in the first few minutes of his life. After he was clear, Florence met her newborn son for the first time.

The midwife clears liquid from Florence’s baby boy’s lungs.

Two days after giving birth, Florence was sitting up, smiling in the maternal health ward next door, where she received post-operative care.

“Thank you, Medical Teams, for taking care of me and my baby. I thank God for saving my life,” Florence said.

Florence sits in the maternal health ward, happy and grateful that she has a healthy baby boy.

Florence’s health workers continued to check on her in the following days, and even months after. Eight months after giving birth, Medical Teams Community Health workers went to check on Florence at her home in the settlement, finding that she and her baby boy are both healthy.

Without access to health centers like these, mothers like Florence and her baby may not survive the birth. Thanks to our amazing medical staff, mothers like Florence can safely deliver their babies.


Find out more about how you can help mothers like Florence through our maternal and child health program.

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