Medevac 1: Muskato

Muskato is pregnant, and lives in the remote village of Makapa. Her waters break and her baby is about to be born. Her excitement is mixed with apprehension as she thinks through the impending risks. She lives in a village hours away from any hospital and, as she had a cessarian last time, she knows she will most likely need medical help again this time.

She paddles downstream to the closest aid post at Awaba. There they can tell her baby is distressed, but they don’t know what to do. She clambers into another boat and travels to the closest hospital at Balimo. She arrives to find there are no doctors there, only nurses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe hasn’t felt her baby move for a while. The nurses check. They can’t hear her baby’s heartbeat. They check again. No heartbeat. And again. No heartbeat. Her baby has died and is still inside her. Then the labour pains start. She is in Balimo for a week and still the baby is inside her. Now her life is in danger and the nurses decide she needs to get to a doctor. She is moved back in the boat. It is raining and windy, and the river is choppy.

The bumpy journey takes an hour, and she is in pain. The nurses hold an umbrella over her to keep the rain off, but still she gets wet. Then the motor stops. They drift on the river while someone works to repair the motor.

They keep going and eventually arrive at Kawito. People lift her off the boat on a stretcher. They carry her up the steep embankment and to a plane. A crowd has gathered and people are watching her. They lift her onto the plane.

The plane bumps along the airstrip and then takes off. An hour and a half later they land at Rumginae. An ambulance meets the plane and she is finally taken to the hospital. The doctor does a caesarean. Mukusato’s life is saved, but there is her baby, with her hopes and dreams for it, lying dead.