This past week we were lectured to by Monica, a woman who is the director for another NGO named KMET. She is a midwife by trade, and now works to promote maternal health across the Nyanza province. She told us about the night before she arrived back at school to lecture for us and I was blown away. So I have a story for you all:

Monica was riding in the back of the bumpy Matatu. As she bounced down the pothole-filled road, she watched the dark fields of sugar cane pass by out her window. Not very many people were left walking down the dusty road, except for the few stragglers who were too tired or sick to make a good pace. She glanced out the windshield. The beams of the headlights lit up a Bodaboda (motorcycle taxi) and its passenger, who was frantically waving her arms. Monica told the driver to stop. Something was wrong.

As the Matatu pulled over to the side of the road, the woman collapsed slowly to the ground. Monica hopped out of the van and hurried over to ease her down. She could see that the woman was pregnant. Very pregnant. When she asked what was wrong, the woman told her she had been trying to get to the regional hospital to deliver her baby. But Monica could tell that the woman’s time was just about up. She would not make it to the hospital.

“I knew that that baby was going to come right then, so I said, ‘Okay, we are going to do this here,'” Said Monica.

Fortunately, Monica had with her the “Mama Kit”, which is a prepackaged selection of items that can be used to help a pregnant woman deliver safely. The Mama Kits are produced by KMET.

From the Mama Kit, Monica took the paraffin plastic sheet and placed it under the woman. And there, on the side of the Kenyan road, with barely enough light to see, Monica helped deliver the beautiful baby girl. However, the birth wasn’t that easy. After the baby came out, Monica swathed her in some fresh, warm cloth and handed it to her assistant. They asked the woman to keep pushing so the placenta could follow and the process could be completed. But first twenty minutes went by. Then forty-five. Nothing was happening.

“When the placenta gets stuck in the uterus, unless there is trained, professional help, these mothers will die. There is almost no chance of survival. They become septic, they bleed, there is little hope,” Monica told us.

Fortunately, Monica had within her Mama Kit the drug Misoprostel. Misoprostel is controversial in Kenya and many parts of the world because it can be used as a means to terminate pregnancy in abortion. However, its main purpose is to cause the uterine muscles to contract, pushing out anything stuck–in this case, a placenta. Finally, after the administration of Misoprostel and another 15 minutes of suspense, the placenta was finally delivered.

Today, the baby girl and the mother are perfectly fine. However, stories like this more often end tragically. Monica is an amazing woman who is doing amazing things here at KMET. People like her are working tirelessly to change the lives of African women in the hope for a better future.

This weekend we’re going to Lake Nakuru for safari! I’ll have lots of pictures to post when I get back, that’s for sure. Also, our colleague at KMET is currently developing the prototype of our device so I’ll give more word on that once we have it finished.

Until next time, thanks for reading!


3 responses »

  1. Ken says:

    So many wonder women such as Monica on the planet.
    I know your parents will want a framed version of the prom photo!

  2. Susan & Chris says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Fascinating stories — thanks for letting us share your experiences. Hope your project works out — great innovation that can have a huge impact! We look forward to seeing you when you’re back in the Pacific Northwest.
    Chris and Susan

  3. Jan von Lehe says:

    Hi Andrew – –
    you are on such an amazing adventure! Truly wonderful to have this connection between outstanding medical experts working to address the needs of the world’s very vulnerable!

    Your mom and I had a great weekend hiking near Anacortes and visiting. Best to you and look forward to seeing you in Seattle!

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