A Testimony from St. Thomas Clinic in Port Harcourt
By Dr. Olaniyi Olaobaju
The date was 27 May, 2021. Just about fifteen minutes past midnight. I was calmly sleeping in my room after a hectic day. The phone rang and I answered it. It was my bosom friend and colleague, Dr. Onyebuchi Obia.
“Hello Dr. Olaniyi! Are you in the clinic?”
“Yes.” I replied.
Dr. Obia continued, “I am in Famo Clinic right now and I have a patient with a ruptured uterus here with me.
She has had two previous C-sections. She has been in labor for the past 12 hours in a maternity home. She was brought here because her clinical state is getting worse with blood pressure of 90/60 and heart rate of120 beats per minute. Presently, she is bleeding massively and I can feel the fetal part from the abdomen. My supervisor said to refer her out as he will not be able to do surgery tonight. I would love to bring her to your clinic because we will not be able to make it to the teaching hospital due to the curfew in town. She will probably die before we can get her there.”
I replied, “Chief, this is a difficult one. How do you expect me to get blood to transfuse and operate this night? The lab scientist only works during the day,” I replied in dilemma. “Don’t worry, she has a number of relatives with her. I think there might be a suitable donor amongst them. Let me discuss with them.”
This indeed is a conundrum. That means I must forgo my precious sleep and run the grouping and crossmatching of the blood myself. And then screen for other forms of infection like HIV, hepatitis, VDRL, etc. before transfusing. And I am the only doctor on duty. My colleague, Dr. Gomba completed his shift at 5 pm the previous evening and he has gone. While I was busy thinking about how to go about this difficult assignment all by myself, the phone rang. It was Dr. Obia again. “Don’t worry, our lab scientist here has been able to get them two units of screened blood. They are already on their way.” I quickly dashed downstairs and informed the nurse on duty to prepare the theatre. Before I could say Jack Robinson, the horn of the ambulance was already blaring at the entrance of the clinic.
Fortunately, Dr. Obia came with them. He said he felt I might need some helping hands, and of course, I did! We went in together and fortunately, after two hours of a difficult operation involving extraction of the fetus from the abdomen, repair of the ruptured uterus and bladder, we came out successful.
Uterine rupture is a rare, but it’s a serious childbirth complication that can occur during vaginal birth. It causes a mother’s uterus to tear spontaneously so her baby slips into her abdomen. This can cause severe bleeding in the mother and can suffocate the baby.
Today, after spending a couple of days in the clinic, we are glad to announce that she is fit to go home, even though she is leaving with a urinary catheter to reduce her risk of vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) because of the bladder repair.
We want to give great thanks to all of our supporting partners and friends from Kateri Medical Services for making this miracle a reality.
The Rev. Dr. Olaobaju is the owner and head doctor at St. Thomas
Clinic in Port Harcourt. He is also
an ordained priest in the Anglican Diocese of Niger Delta North.