Sunday, November 14, 2010

Neo-Natal Resuscitation in Bosnia...

"According to the World Health Organization, nearly one million babies die each year due to birth difficulties. As many as 10 percent of all newborns have breathing difficulties at birth and require some assistance. With proper training and minimal equipment, many of the deaths of newborns due to breathing problems can be avoided. The Church works with national health organizations and ministries of health from countries around the world to identify areas where training in neonatal resuscitation is most desperately needed. The Church then sends volunteer physicians and nurses to instruct birth attendants in these areas. These local attendants are then able to train others. More than 80,000 birth attendants have been trained so far."
   This quote from the official church web site explains a little about Neo-natal resuscitation and the goal that we have to save babies. This week it was our privilege to participate in a small way with this training. WOW! What an awesome experience it was!
    We started for Bosnia as soon as our Sacrament Meeting was over, stopping in Zagreb on the way to pick up Tihana's, (our translator)  passport. She had forgotten it and fortunately remembered before we got to the boarder. We brought her mother as well. A two-fold reason for this. Number 1, Tihana  is a beautiful young lady, and it is important that if we are going to travel with her that her mother feels comfortable with us. We will start doing more travel when our budget rolls over in January and will need Tihana to go with us, how would you feel if two strange, old, people not of your faith wanted to  take your daughter all over Croatia?  Do you see the need for her to get to know us? Reason number two: We also wanted her to see what kind of work her daughter was doing, what kind of humanitarian things the church was doing and hopefully realize that we going about the Lord's work. I think we accomplished our goals by the time the trip was over.
    We arrived in Bosnia just in time to check in to our hotel and then get up to the hospital to meet the other humanitarian couple from Serbia, the Doctors from Utah and 5 local Doctors from the Banya Luka Hospital. Immediately Dr. George Bennett and Doctor Eric Gerday took the 5 local Doctors and started training them to be the teachers for the next two days.
     The Red Cross had brought in all the equipment, (they can get stuff through customs) and they had loaned us a van with the driver to come up from Sarajevo. The training lasted a couple of hours that night.
    The next morning we started early for the hospital, all together there was 62 students to be trained. From all over Bosnia.. The Utah Doctors were going down for another training in Sarajevo which was much closer for some of the students, however, because of ethnic intolerance, they would rather travel a far distance than sit side by side in a class room that has people that are different than them.  Makes me so grateful for the diversity that we enjoy in the United States, however imperfect, it's still amazing to me. Thank-You America! To be fair, however, in the United States we have not been involved in a recent civil conflict that has left deep scars on the population. We have had over 150 years since that has happen in our history. Give them time.
    Doctor Bennett and Doctor Gerday taught the training for the next two days with the help of the Local Doctors. Marcia Bennett, Dr. Bennett's wife, is really the backbone to the whole operation. She makes all the arrangements, working with all the local people, the humanitarian couple in charge and all the travel arrangements. I just thought she was awesome, what a woman! She and her husband have been traveling all over the world for the last 6 years doing this. Those of you who have done international travel know how hard this is on a body. but all the doctors who work in this program are dedicated to saving lives and know that it is the work of Our Heavenly Father.
     When the training was finished, we had a closing ceremony where each student was given a certificate of completion, each clinic or hospital that was involved received a training mannequin and equipment to train others at their facilities, they also receive equipment for their clinical maternity rooms.  We heard from Dr. Bennett, the hospital general manager or principle, the minister of health for Bosnia, Jim and then Marcia Bennett presented each of the training Doctors with a pin from the American Pediatric Association . She also presented a beautiful picture of a new baby to the main Pediatric Doctor in Banya Luka Hospital. It was beautiful and the Doctor was very touched by the gift. Did I tell you Marcia was amazing? Of course Jim cried as he told them how grateful he was for each on of our eight children and twenty grandchildren and what a tragedy it would have been in our lives to have lost even one of them. One is too many if it is YOUR child. One more little thought before I close, Dr. Bennett made me understand one important thing about this program. ...Death is not the real tragedy, mental and physical disabilities due to lack of oxygen at birth are the real tragedies. A whole lifetime of tragedy, for the child, for parents, siblings, and grandparents.
    I had this thought drilled home this week-end, Jim and I were at the grocery store across the street and saw a little grandma and grandpa struggling to get a disabled teenager up a flight of stairs, He weighed about 80 lbs, Jim asked if he could help. And a minute later he had the boy swooped up in his arms and carried him up two flights of stairs. In broken English we learned from the grandmother that the boys name was Marco, he was 15. Father died 5 years ago of cancer and left him in the care of his aging grandparents, No mother was ever mentioned so we aren't sure about her. We told her that  the Red Cross was receiving 250 wheelchairs in the next couple of weeks, we could see that they got one for her grandson. As she repeated what we said to her 85 year old husband, she and grandfather both with tears of relief said Thank-you, thank-you , thank-you! We have had no money for a chair. Could these doctors who spend their time training neo-natal resuscitation be doing anything more important with their retirement time? I hope you see my point. They know what Pure Religion is. If just one family like this one can benefit from this life saving procedure their time is well spent.

Our teaching patients. We had eight tables for the students to each get hands-on training.
Dr. Bennett teaching at one of the tables. He is the one with white hair. From Farmington, Utah.
Now it's the students turn. They break the training up into different portions, The babies first 30 seconds, babies next 30 seconds and so forth..... each student gets a chance to practice and learn with the mannequin. One of the last times at the table they have to teach their peers how to do it.
The lady on my left is a doctor from one of the small clinics in Bosnia. The other two are nurses at the same clinic. They deliver an average of 1600 babies a year!  They have an anesthesiologist on staff, but other than that, they do it all!
Banja Luka looking over the valley from the hospital.

Our 62 students eager to learn!

Marcia Bennett giving the Local Doctors their pins from the American Pediatric Society.


cynphil6 said...

I LOVE your updates!

Brooke said...

WOW! What a great opportunity for those doctors to come and learn. They truly are doing Heavenly Fathers work.

I am so grateful that my children's doctors had the knowledge and were trained in that specific area. Without them all three of my children wouldn't have made it!

You brought tears to my eyes about Jim carrying the 15year old up the flight of stairs. Somethings I take each day for granted, and don't realize that I am so blessed. I am so grateful that you and Jim are able to love and serve these wonderful people!

Robin said...

I would love to be able to do this. Great story and I can only imagine the feeling of helping the boy up the stairs. Reminds me of the pioneers who carried others across the river. Good job guys!!!!

Elder and Sora Linerud said...

Great blog! It was fun reading all your happenings, especially since we just heard about them first-hand at the conference. I love the Estrogen story! Didn't hear that one at the conference! Keep up the good work and keep up the blogging. I'll be waiting for the next post!

pam randall said...

You are having a great time, I can tell. It is so fun to read all the good time you are having and the good things you two are doing. I'm sure those elders are glad to have you there. you are just taking over for their mom's at the Holidays Great looking pumpkin pie, BIG, you did good. We miss you here. Summer did a great job organizing our RS Social. First for her. it sounds like we might be getting a little more winter than you? It has been unbelieveable how much snow and water we have had they say it's the 3rd most record in history. I wasn't quite ready for it. Well enough complaining. Glad to see you are getting to see so much Country while you are serving. It's always fun to see other parts of the world isn't it. Well you take care and keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more of your good deeds.