Experiencing God's Grace at a South Sudan Hospital

January 17, 2018 • South Sudan

God saved a baby's life at Maban County Hospital.

Pauline Ng’ang’a is a midwife for Samaritan’s Purse at Maban County Hospital in South Sudan.

It’s a normal day in the maternity ward at Maban County Hospital in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan. Mothers are trickling in and out while others are laboring to give birth, and newborns are taking their first breath and letting out their cries. On and on it goes.

A distressed young lady walks in who is experiencing labor pain with bleeding. It is obvious to me she is not ready for delivery. Her name is Mary, she is 23 years old, and only seven months into her pregnancy.

I begin to learn her story and my heart breaks for her. This is her fifth pregnancy, but she has lost her other babies at this same stage in the pregnancies with the same complications. I thought to myself, “This is a precious baby and has to live!”

Mary's newborn baby.

Mary’s newborn baby.

Tests reveal no abnormalities and no apparent causes for the pregnancy complications. We admit her, restrict her to complete bed rest, and work to stop the bleeding and painful contractions.

Our maternity team is committed to her care but two weeks later Mary goes into labor and we cannot delay delivery. Baby Mary is born weighing less than two pounds. She has difficulty breathing because her lungs are not fully developed and she is so tiny.

Although we assure Mary that in God’s power this baby will live, I can see in her face how hopeless the situation seems. She has walked this road four times and doesn’t even want to name a baby she doesn’t expect to survive.

The newborn unit at Maban has only a few items to provide “kangaroo care” to babies. We pray Mary can produce milk to breastfeed her baby, and we pray for and entrust this baby girl into God’s hands.

God answered our prayers and provided milk for Mary. The maternity team faithfully supported this mother and tiny baby and continued to pray for her life.

Mary's baby continued to gain weight and to grow healthy and strong in the months after her birth.

Mary’s baby gained weight in the months after her birth.

Days pass and Mary is more encouraged and even surprised her baby is still alive. Praying with us for her precious girl becomes a daily routine. Mary even begins to smile again. She learns to secure her baby to her chest and feeds her every three hours. Days become weeks and soon a month has passed.

One day, baby Mary gave us a scare. She enjoyed her mother’s milk so much she became too full and forgot to breathe. Her mother immediately screams and is certain her baby has suddenly died.

We all run to the unit to find the precious baby still and lifeless. Some of us work to stimulate her and others pray. Within moments, the baby moves and begins to breathe. What a mighty God we serve! We gave thanks to God and Mary was amazed.

By the time Mary reached 3.3 pounds she was thriving and ready to be discharged. All of our prayers helped sustain this precious baby.

For the next month after discharge, Mary continued the kangaroo care she learned at the hospital. By her third month, the baby weighed 7.5 pounds.

Baby Mary is one among many premature babies we care for with limited resources. She is extra special because of her mother’s history of losing four other babies. We wanted to give Mary hope, to encourage her when she felt hopeless, and to let God work.

When we refuse to give up, serve with our very best, and trust God, miracles can happen.