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A triple medevac for seven lives

Posted: on August 29, 2014

Pilot Luke Newell’s flight on Saturday the 16th of August, is one that he’s not likely to forget anytime soon.

The day before, at 4pm, Luke received a call from Rumginae hospital. A mother in Balimo needed an urgent medevac.

The mother had been in labour with twins for quite some time already. The first baby had been born the day before and was doing well, however, the second baby was refusing to face the outside world.

Balimo has a hospital but no doctor and their airstrip is 3in1_23_400currently closed due to major upgrading works. The nearest airport is the MAF base at Kawito – a one-hour trip by dinghy. That would not leave enough time to get to the Rumginae Hospital before dark.

After again talking to the doctor it was decided that there was not a lot of physical help he could provide at that time and sadly the baby was expected to die overnight. If that happened a flight would not be required.

But a flight was required! The next morning the baby was still alive and still needing to get to a hospital. Not only that, but two more mothers reportedly also needed to get to a hospital. So they all made the trip on the dinghy to Kawito.

All three mothers arrived by dinghy and were on stretchers – unable to walk. This was a bit of a challenge because normally we deal with only one stretcher. After talking with them, Luke found that one could sit in a seat with assistance and there was room for two stretchers on the floor. There was also the newborn baby and a guardian to help look after the patients.

After the 90-minute flight back to Rumginae, a big team of national medical staff from the hospital met the plane and unloaded the ladies.

The mother that had already given birth to one twin was seen straight away and her other little girl was delivered by Caesarean section, but was not doing well. The doctors performed CPR on the baby for 20 to 30 minutes before she started to breathe on her own.

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Update on patients:

Tunibato, the mother of the twins, named her first daughter Payaleto. She named her second girl Sharon, after Dr Sharon who delivered her.

The other two mothers were both high-risk pregnancies due to pre-eclampsia. One of these mothers, called Elsie, was induced and delivered a healthy baby boy last Sunday, the day after the medevac. She named her newborn Ezra.

The third mother, Solowayato, was going to be induced on the Monday, however, that wasn’t necessary in the end as she had a natural delivery in the early hours of Monday morning. She has not named her daughter yet. Although Solowayato was able to deliver her baby girl naturally it was discovered that she has clubfoot. The staff at Rumginae are able to treat clubfoot with plastering. If this baby were not delivered in Rumginae, her clubfoot would have gone untreated leaving her with a life-long disability.

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