Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Emily, Darfur - October
I always wake up at around 6am, even without an alarm clock. Being the first one up I get the first of the hot water, heated up by the guards in an old fashioned cauldron with a tap on the side.
To my surprise there's a proper gas oven in the kitchen, equipped with other utensils. I usually have cornflakes with powdered milk or a locally made bread, with marmite that I brought, or nutella or honey that are brought on trucks along with medical supplies. After breakfast we have the security briefing, although this area is quiet at the moment.
This morning, a lady who had been in labour since Sunday needs assistance. Meanwhile, so does another lady who is in agony after giving birth to a big baby five days ago but hasn't been passing urine since the birth. The baby, apparently her ninth infant, was stillborn. We fit a catheter and manage to drain almost two litres instantly.
We attend to another lady who has had a miscarriage, and put her on a drip to stop her bleeding before sending her home.
After lunch I am called back into the clinic to help a woman whose baby, believed to be her sixth, is transverse at 36 weeks. Luckily, she hasn’t been contracting. We complete a referral form to send her to the hospital in Nyala, but there are no trucks available until next week.
Another lady arrives at the clinic saying that she is 20 weeks pregnant, but looks ready for labour now. There is no foetal heart and she is in pain, obviously from the expansion. We don’t know what is wrong with her and no trucks are available to take her to a hospital.
Paying rebel groups
It’s expensive to hire trucks because we would have to pay rebel groups to let the truck pass. We give her IV antibiotics and pain relief as a precautionary measure.
In the evening I go back to clinic in the pitch black. The 20-week pregnant lady is still in a bad way, but her husband knows of a truck that is leaving tonight or tomorrow morning. This means that we’ll be able to get her to El Fasher. The journey takes eight hours, but it’s better than waiting a week.
We arrange the cash and paperwork for the truck and prepare everything in case it plans to leave straight away. It’s a relief to know that she will soon get the medical attention that she needs, ending the evening on a positive note.