I woke up this morning to the sound of my phone ringing. As soon as my cognitive reasoning abilities kicked in I stopped hitting my alarm clock and realized it was my phone making the noise. It’s never a good sign when you get woken up by your phone before your alarm goes off. It could only mean one thing, an unscheduled emergency flight.
The flight that had come up on such short notice was an emergency medical evacuation from the town of Garissa, which is about 300 miles east of Nairobi. To drive from Garissa to Nairobi it would take you one very long day, or an hour and a half by plane.
I got to the airport, got the plane ready and then waited for the missionary nurse to arrive. She was going to come along to provide medical assistance to the patient. When she arrived that’s when I found out who we were flying. She told me about a missionary couple from Europe who had been serving in the town of Garissa with Campus Crusade for several years among the Somali people. Their first born child who was born in Nairobi, had contracted malaria when he was one and half years old. He was quite sick and very dehydrated when they brought him into the Nairobi hospital. There the doctors gave him too much IV fluids too quickly and his heart failed, so they had lost their first child in Africa.
Here we are now a couple years later, and the wife just gave birth yesterday to their second child a baby girl. She was exactly one day old when I arrived at the airport in Garrisa at 12:30 in the afternoon. Apparently three hours after the delivery the baby wasn’t breathing on it’s own anymore and required a respirator, hence the need to get the baby to the hospital in Nairobi.
In the plane the nurse held the baby as the mother was still quite sore from the cesarean. I helped the nurse get strapped in, then tied up the babies IV to one of our cargo rings. We brought along an oxygen bottle, but only had adult sized oxygen masks. I connected the mask, turned on the oxygen then slipped the mask over the babies face. The mask literally covered the child’s entire face, she was so small and helpless. Without the oxygen on for even a minute she would turn blue, there is no way they could have kept that child alive if they had tried to drive to the hospital. The airplane was her only chance to live.
As I stared down at that baby girl, I began to think of my three precious girls at home, my heart nearly broke. Before climbing into the plane I said a word of prayer for the family and the baby girl, and we were off. One hour and twenty minutes later we were landing in Nairobi, after a nice smooth, cool flight. Even though we had called a head with our ETA the ambulance was late. Well this is Africa it’s only to be expected.
As we waited for the ambulance the nurse pointed out with alarm that the oxygen bottle was nearing empty. I quickly called the hangar, and the guys pulled the oxygen bottle from the DC-3 and brought it down to immigration and customs where we were waiting. Thankfully by the time they arrived with the new oxygen bottle the ambulance had also arrived to take the family to the hospital.
Please pray for this family. That the Lord will give them strength and comfort through this time, that the doctors will have the wisdom to know what to do and how to treat her, and that this precious baby girl will get well soon. This family does not need another tragedy!