We received a call 6am 8th May from the hospital to say there was a mother at Walagi HC with retained placenta and could we assist. She had delivered in the village 12 hours ago. Baby was well but the placenta is still inside and she is bleeding, a small amount but continuous.
Kila and I had loaded the Beaver the night before in preparation for a trip to Agaun and Rabaraba today. We unloaded, topped up with fuel and prepared for a water landing at Mud Bay, Goodenough Island. Getting organized can take time and we departed at 8am.
A retained placenta is an emergency. The mother can slowly bleed to death or she can develop sepsis if not treated quickly.
We have a seaplane base at Walagi HC which is situated inside a large bay on the eastern side of Goodenough isl it is protected from all weather except a northerly wind.
There was low cloud covering the Owen Stanley Range as there often is, so we followed the Bay out of Gurney airfield heading due east until we found a clear opening at 3000’, crossed over and headed north to Goodenough isl.
45 minutes later we let down onto a almost glassy sea outside the Walagi HC and taxied into our base. A crowd had gathered so there are plenty of helpers to grab the Beaver wing ropes should the wind have other ideas to spoil our arrival.
Kila quickly mobilized to organize the stretcher and cabin in readiness to receive the mother. On arrival the mother was pale and tachycardia (fast heart rate) She had lost lot of blood but was also malaria positive and running a temperature of 38.7
Baby was well and breastfeeding.
Walagi staff do an excellent job of looking after mothers in the district but had run out of oxytocin supply some time ago and had none to give this mother. The baby breast feeding would help contract the uterus around the attached placenta and slow the bleeding.
The mothers sister would be her guardian and look after the baby on the return journey.
The return journey was had us climbing to 5000’ to clear the cloud bank sitting over the Owen Stanley’s before a descent into Gurney and touchdown at 10.30am.
Mother and baby are doing fine. The mother had a Hb of 3.3 on arrival When a normal Hb is 15 for a mother in Australia you can see why PNG mothers are tough and have to be to survive. Malaria and frequent infections means the average Hb in PNG for mothers is around 11-12 .
We have a lot of work to do at Walagi HC. We plan to build a new labour room and also our seaplane base is now 5 years old and has taken a battering from the northerly wind and in need of repairs.
Thank you to our team and followers.
Much love from us
Barry and Kila