Each morning Rusty takes Matthew to Carla to attend preschool with his Ati classmates. The morning usually includes harvesting vegetables from the community garden and sharing them with the school lunch program or mothers who are happy to include the fresh veggies into their family’s simple meal plans of rice and dried fish. This particular morning Rusty had an “appointment” to take an older gentleman for an ultrasound. The patient had had abdominal pain for more than two weeks, and having completed the prescribed regimen of oral antibiotics with no relief, was referred for an ultrasound evaluation. As they prepared to travel into town on a tricycle, the son in law of the patient “J” asked Rusty if it would be OK for his brother in laws wife to come along for an ultrasound, too. The young wife was obviously very pregnant and the family said they were hoping to learn when the baby would come. Rusty agreed and the small group made their way to town.
The only ultrasound within 2 hrs is a twice weekly clinic held in a combination pharmacy and tiny doctors office. A local doctor, who we count as a friend, has established this clinic setting, that while usually quite busy and overcrowded, is an essential blessing to the community. This day was particularly busy and the group of patients and family supporters along with Rusty waited on the street for a couple of hours until it was their turn.
As is often the case, since in the Philippines priority is given to pregnant mothers in any queue, the expectant mom we’ll call “M” went first. The doctor that performs the ultrasounds is an MD and trained radiologist and she quickly determined that “M” and her baby were grave danger. Doc came to find Rusty and explain that the baby was in distress and that there was almost no fluid protecting the baby. She recommended that she be admitted immediately and have a cesarean delivery as soon as possible.
This is not so simple. There are no surgical facilities at the nearest hospital. Emergency surgery first means a 2 hr ride to the nearest city.
Uncharacteristically, Rusty left his phone on the charger at the house that morning. At about the same time he was learning of the emergency situation, I was being visited by the family of another young mother who had also been transported to the regional hospital. Thankfully, this mother had avoided a surgical birth, but was in need of our assistance and the family asked if I could go to her.
With school finished for the day, I quickly showered and left to catch first a tricycle to town and then a van to the city. I told the older kids where I was going and that I expected Dad home soon and to please, remind him to check his phone as soon as he got home.
About 10 mins into the two hour van journey I got a text from Rusty. I asked how his elderly patient was, as we expected there was potentially an appendicitis issue that may also need surgery and therefore transport to the city hospital. He said that he didn’t know but he was not far behind us with another patient, an emergency cesarean. We discussed the pros and cons of the several hospital options and decided that we only had one chance to make the right decision. He sent me ahead to the newer, better equipped private hospital to let them know that there was an emergency cesarean coming in a private van. Rusty had hired a private van because the wait for an ambulance is often long here and it seemed to him that time was of the essence.
Once the patient and her family arrived in the city, things moved quickly. The ER doctor accessed the situation and agreed with the ultrasound doctor’s diagnosis, confirmed by a still sky-rocketing fetal heart rate. We also learned that “M’s” water had broken on Saturday (this was Monday) but no labor had started. Thank God she was brave enough to ask for help, even though she had no idea the seriousness of her situation, God was working in her life! The OB on call was summoned and within ten mins she arrived and began to assemble the surgical team to do the delivery. “M’s” mother was a littler leery of the financial estimate that the hospital staff gave for the cost of the birth and after care. “M” dates had the baby at only 35 weeks gestation and the medical team was concerned that there could be additional pre-term issues with the baby. We reassured her that this was what needed to be done to save the baby and maybe even her daughter’s life and that we were trusting God to provide. Reluctantly she agreed. But seemed stressed not only by the grave situation they found themselves in, but the looming bill that accompanied these troubles. We stopped and prayed with her and asked God to protect “M” and the baby and provide for their needs.
Before dark, our first time mom, with little understanding of what was about to happen except that her baby was going to be born, was wheeled into the surgical suite. We waited in the OB ward with “M’s” mother, husband and brother in law. It was a long silent wait as they nervously shuffled their feet in their flip flops and patiently waited for news. After what seemed like too long for me, the guys took a walk and not long after they left the room a nurse invited “M’s” mom and I to come to the NICU.
Praise the Lord we were greeted by a smiling pediatrician holding a beautiful, healthy newborn baby girl! Weighing in at 3 kilos, she was a healthy full term baby, despite the challenges of the last few days. A few hours later “M” was wheeled back to her room and the stress of the surgery and the situation seemed to wear on her face. She was silent as I congratulated her and told her how beautiful her little girl was. It was all too much to take in for a first time mom from the village. Having had five cesarean deliveries myself, I knew exactly how she felt.
We were amazed at the beautiful way God had orchestrated this potentially fatal situation on behalf of this young family. We truly acted on faith as our monthly medical budget was more than exhausted by the estimated cost of the care. We shared the praise report of a healthy mother and baby with our prayer team and shared too the need for additional gifts to cover the costs. At first we had a three replies, and we were encouraged! As the week came to a close, though, it was time for “M” and baby to be discharged and this meant payment in full of the bill. The final cost was lower than the high end estimate, but still racked up to $1790 USD. A bargain in the American medical system, but exceedingly more than even middle class Filipino families could shoulder and well above what was left in our medical budget. We pulled resources from our other areas of expenses and trusted that God would provide still in some way. We never told anyone how much we were short, but trusted that God knew and that He must surely have a plan.
Almost a week later, we received a note from a friend at home, who wanted to let us know that $1200 had been sent to our mission to help with “M’s” bills from a group of friends and supporters at home. This was exactly the amount that we had been short, demonstrating once again that God is our sure Provider.
He provided a safe delivery for “M” and her baby. He provided the facilities and staff that are not locally available. He put it in “M’s” heart to ask for help. And now He provided every dollar to meet the need of the bill.
Praise the Lord! May the news of His greatness be spread throughout the Earth!
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. ~Psalm 154:15-16
P.S. The older gentleman did indeed have an appendicitis issue, but was able to resolve it with IV antibiotics and a brief hospital stay. He’s now at home too, finishing his recovery before he returns to work. In fact, all six of the indigenous patients hospitalized on this particularly busy week are home and expected to make full recovery. Praise the Lord!
To find out more about our mission to the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, see our ministry website or email us directly. http://www.cjmi.org