I still occasionally go out with HERO ambulance when they are extra busy or have little babies that need help.
Not too long ago I got a call asking if I would go help with a neonate that was not doing very well and needed to come to Port-au-Prince (PAP). I was picked up and we headed out of town.
They were coming from a small hospital along the coast. The hospital put them in their ambulance and started toward us and we started toward them — hoping to meet at a predestined spot.
It was not all that far by U.S. standards but traffic makes it seem like a loooong way.
We kept getting updates and each one just brought more questions and concerns. The complaint was about a less-than-2-day-old baby who was good on the first day, but started to develop breathing issues, with low oxygen levels.
It was determined that the problem was the baby was “in the water too long.”
They don’t do water births in Haiti, so we were puzzled about what it could mean.
We were updated that they had trouble finding an oxygen tank for the transport. Turns out some missionaries (who went to the hospital to check on Mom) paid for one — and so they loaded up the ambulance with the biggest tank of O2 they hat they had.
Next, we were told the hospital was going to send the gate attendant for the hospital in the ambulance with the Neonatal patient. So, the missionaries paid a nurse to go with him instead. When we reached the meeting place, they hadn’t arrived (given all the issues trying to leave) so we continued further toward them.
We finally met at a gas station for the patient exchange. When they pulled up, they did, indeed, have a very large oxygen tank — one that was sticking out the window of the ambulance with the valve exposed to passing vehicles! When I got the baby, he was barely breathing and required some quick and aggressive care to get him back to his normal oxygen level of 80%.
Had we waited at the planned spot, baby would have died before reaching us.
The transport back to the hospital in PAP was frustrating. It was less than 20 miles back to the hospital but took over 90 minutes — even while we had our lights and sirens on in traffic.
In our haste, we hit a propane truck just outside or PAP! Yikes!
Identities of the patients and family with HERO ambulance are always protected. Patients in our clinics give us permission to use their pictures and names.
Baby did well for a while, and then started to go down hill again. We were assisting his breathing for the last 20 minutes of the transport but couldn’t intubate him — and no appropriate hospitals had any room for him.
We finally arrived at one hospital. Baby was still breathing spontaneously, and was still awake at times. We stayed at the hospital and assisted when we could. But, unfortunately, we would soon learn baby’s fate — he had died.
Some days we feel like we’ve lost. But for this little baby, there is no better place for him to be than in the arms of Jesus!
And although we lose sometimes, we continue the fight, and many kids are better because of it!!
Until No Child Dies,