Aster’s Story: Raising Skills, Saving Lives

The role of a Maternity Worldwide Volunteer obstetrician

Aster successfully gave birth to her fifth baby at home with just her mother to help. Initially the birth seemed to have gone well and Aster delivered a healthy baby girl of 3.5 kg. But the afterbirth (the placenta) would not come out and Aster started to lose a large volume of blood. Her family carried her to the hospital but by the time they got there Aster was unconscious. She also had a seizure, which may have been due to her having high blood pressure, a recognised complication of pregnancy.

One of the key elements of Maternity Worldwide’s integrated maternal health approach is that we provide highly skilled volunteer doctors to train and mentor local clinical staff.  In rural Ethiopia it is often difficult to recruit and retain qualified doctors and midwives to provide the necessary level of skilled care to ensure women with serious complications can give birth safely.  When Aster arrived in the hospital the experienced Maternity Worldwide volunteer obstetrician was able to call together a team of people with the necessary skills to keep Aster alive. They manually removed the afterbirth to stop the bleeding and after 20 minutes Aster’s condition had stabilised.

Aster had lost a great deal of blood. She needed a transfusion but this was complicated by the fact she had a fairly rare blood type.  Fortunately one of the other Maternity Worldwide volunteers was a match and she donated blood to her.

Aster suffered further bleeding later that evening but the Maternity Worldwide obstetrician was able to treat her successfully with medication. By the following morning the bleeding had stopped. Aster made a good recovery and two day later left the hospital with her baby and husband.

By working in partnership the Ethiopian staff team and the Maternity Worldwide volunteers were able to provide the skilled care which Aster needed and helped to save the lives of both mother and baby.