Matilda’s Story

Every weekday morning we meet at 7:30 in the chapel where we sing a few Zambian church songs and hear a message from one of the Zambians who work at the hospital (nurse, lab tech, etc). Then from 8 till noon we round. I’ve been working with a doc rounding on the male ward, female ward, and pediatric malnutrition ward. In the afternoon/evenings I help with admitting patients. We have an outpatient clinic and urgent care/ER that will send us patients to be admitted.

I wanted to share with you the story of Matilda, a 20 year-old pregnant mother of one child, because it is a story of hope and victory. The hospital I’m at is quite an amazing place, and I hope you can gather that from her story.
Matilda showed up to the hospital last Tuesday evening, pregnant at 33 weeks with her water already broken (this is dangerous because it can cause infections for the baby and the mother). She quickly began to deteriorate (septic/hypotensive) because she developed a blood infection and was taken to the operating room for a C-section. They baby was delivered successfully through the C-section but following the surgery Matilda’s blood pressure and heart rate were very low. Our hospital here has just created an “ICU”, and Matilda was the first patient. She was started on epinephrine, a medication which helps to increase blood pressure and heart rate. The only problem is that it must be delivered at a rate of 10 drops/minute. In the US we have machines to do this. In Africa, it must be done by hand. So that night a nurse sat with Matilda in the ICU, delivering 10 drops/minute of epinephrine through a syringe. The following morning when we rounded her blood pressure was around 70/50 and she looked pretty bad. Through the day she began to perk up and by the next day she was talking to us. She’s still in the hospital but is doing very well, and her baby has been taken home.

Matilda’s survival is important because the women here are very important. Frequently the men are lost to drinking and the women farm, cook, and take care of the children. Seeing Matilda every day reminds me of how this hospital is accomplishing great things!

Here is a picture of the front of the hospital. The building on the right is the admin building and on the left is the out-patient clinic/ER.