When 18-year-old Maria brought her tiny, limp newborn boy to our hospital, my first thought was: This child is dead. Three days before she had delivered her baby at home premature (eight months gestation). Earlier that morning, her baby stopped breastfeeding and had trouble breathing. Maria rushed the infant to a nearby health center thirty minutes away. The nurse at the health center immediately knew they couldn’t help, but they didn’t have a functioning vehicle, so Maria squeezed into a packed public bus with her mom and ill baby boy and came to Kudjip.
I was actively putting a tube into a man’s chest when I saw the three enter our ER. Maria and her mother were both wide-eyed with fear. The three-pound baby boy was engulfed in a one-year-old’s t-shirt. I directed one of our nurses to put the baby on the only remaining bed we reserve for traumas while I quickly finished the chest tube. When I turned to assess the baby, he was already blue. I expected to say a sentence with which I have become far too familiar—“Sori tru, Mama, pikinini bilong yu i dai pinis.” (I’m so sorry Mama, your baby is dead.) However, a slow pulse gave me hope. We started CPR. A nursery nurse walked by just at the right moment. Within minutes we had an IV started to give medications along with our CPR and assisted breathing. Over the next 20 minutes of CPR, which seemed much longer, a strong pulse returned. The baby started breathing and crying, but it was still cold. Without an incubator, a nurse brought over a rusty lamp to use as a “heat lamp.” I called for a nurse to quickly get me a pack of baby clothes we give to each new mother, which was fortunately in stock.
Then, I hit a roadblock. The baby pack came complete with clothes for a preemie, but the cloth diaper baffled me and the new mother. Fortunately, Grandma came to the rescue, folding and pinning the diaper in all the right spots. The baby was now warm and happy, and we eventually moved him to the ward. We watched the baby for a couple weeks, giving antibiotics and monitoring his growth before discharging him to the care of his incredibly grateful mother and grandma.
When the supplies are in stock, every mother who delivers a baby at Kudjip receives a “Baby Pack.” Baby Packs are a Ziplock bag filled with necessities for a newborn baby, including clothes, socks, hat, etc. They are packed by interested individuals or churches and shipped to the Nazarene Hospital Foundation in Oregon, USA which regularly sends them on a container to Kudjip. While the stories may not always be as dramatic as Maria’s baby, most of our birthing moms undergo challenges before, during, or after birth. Since we perform nearly 3,000 deliveries a year, these Baby Packs go fast and are frequently out of stock.
Nazarene Hospital Foundation receives two other types of packs which are vital to our work in Papua New Guinea: Cancer Care Kits and Children’s Activity Packs.
Cancer Care Kits are kits made for women with cervical cancer, which is unfortunately quite common and difficult to treat in PNG.
Children’s Activity Packs are given to kids that are admitted for several days or weeks to give them something to do while they are receiving treatment.
If you are interested in making any of these kits or donating to this work, please visit the Nazarene Hospital Foundation’s website at:
You can look under the “Current Needs” tab or donate under the “Donations” tab.
Cover photo of a set of preemie twin boys in some of their baby pack garb.