Redemption in the NICU

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5 years ago, MedSend grant recipient Michelle Y. and her team suffered a complicated infectious outbreak in their overcrowded NICU, resulting in many neonatal deaths. It was an exceedingly grim time for the doctors and staff in their East African hospital, not to mention the grieving families.

“One of the moments that sticks in my mind was when we had preterm triplets born in our hospital. It was a small space, and we didn’t have any room for these babies, but we did the best we could,” Dr. Y tells us.  

The team decided to put the babies in the acute care NICU, all three in one bed in the middle of the small room, surrounded by three other babies around the perimeter. Unfortunately, due to hospital acquired infection–difficult to control in a very tight space–two of the three triplets died. Everyone was devastated.


Averting a repeat crisis

“Fastforward four years,” she continues, “Our [obstetrics] department has many babies ready for delivery, eighteen to be exact with SIX sets of twins, and TWO sets of triplets.” Twins and triplets are often born prematurely requiring some sort of medical support at birth. This could simply be extra help feeding or extreme intervention and lengthy breath support caused by underdeveloped lungs.

The OB and pediatrics team knew their current four-bed acute care NICU couldn’t handle all these babies. But it’s just not possible to plan and schedule when a patient will need to deliver.

“Most preterm deliveries happen unexpectedly from either preterm labor, preterm leaking of amniotic fluid or maternal complications like high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, which has the possibility to cause strokes or death in mothers,” Dr. Y explains.  

These mothers are not often fit for transfer to a hospital that would be able to handle the preterm delivery of their babies. The closest larger facility is 7 hours away along a difficult road. Imagine trying to make that journey while in labor or with high blood pressure!  

So, they devised a plan. 

“We expanded and built out our NICU in about 30 hours by converting a mother’s room into additional acute care space,” Dr. Y explains. The OB, pediatric, facilities, and cleaning teams moved the mothers’ beds out to another part of the hospital, moved in extra equipment, and installed 20 electrical plugs. “It was a very hectic day, filled with hard work and God’s provision,” she says.

Not one hour after they had finished getting the room ready, the first set of triplets were delivered into a safe space. A space they have since made permanent by smashing down walls, adding plugs, moving a bathroom wall, painting, moving shelves, and organizing all the essential equipment.


Moral injury requires spiritual healing

This story has so many sides to it, Dr. Y says. The growth of a department, the hope for healthy babies, teamwork and collaboration, God’s ultimate provision, but also redemption.  

“Five years ago, when we had our last outbreak, I thought it was a sign that my work was futile, and it was time for us to leave [the field] because of these bad outcomes.” As she and her team labored to prepare for another potentially grim situation, she suffered through post-traumatic response to the feeling of inevitable death and disease.  

“Yet God had other plans. He made a way in this difficulty, and I can see His hand of protection and provision in it all,” she says. “God told me to watch over His Kingdom like a pearl, that through the roughness and the pain, beauty would emerge.” He redeemed what could have been a repeat of 4 years earlier and brought three healthy babies into this world. He reminded her that He is in the details, He cares about the lives of His children and that growth is possible.  

“We are not destined to repeat mistakes or relive our past traumas, but He has a new story for us and can give us the freshest of springs in the desert,” she believes.  

At MedSend, it is our privilege to financially support healthcare workers like Dr. Y serving in high-need, low-resource countries. We are honored to offer the spiritual, relational, and professional support our grant recipients need to thrive and endure on the mission field through The Longevity Project. Compassionate care changes lives! 



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