KANDRIAN VILLAGE, Papua New Guinea — Volunteers serving aboard the m/v PACIFIC LINK — a YWAM medical ship — assisted in saving the life of a newborn and his mother recently in this remote part of the nation. It happened earlier this month when weather conditions unfavorable for anchorage forced the ship to sail there for sheltered harbor.
The team of medical volunteers — which included a pediatric doctor and a midwife — were off duty on land when a young pregnant woman with a baby in the breech position met them. Her water had broken almost a week earlier. Julie McLaughlin, who manages the PACIFIC LINK, said the health care workers had to deliver the baby right away in the village.
“A bunch of them went to work assisting as baby decided it was time to come out,” McLaughlin said. She said the team had to manage the emergency with limited resources to save the newborn’s life.
“When the baby was born, he wasn’t breathing. Sometimes working in these conditions, it’s very simple instruments that are lacking. There’s a little suction device that is sold for around $1 in the U.S. and there was not one to be found,” McLaughlin said. “The team improvised and worked to clear the baby’s airways. Soon, he was breathing.”
Infant and maternal mortality continue to be challenges in Papua New Guinea. Thirty-seven children die for every 1,000 live births and 215 women die for every 100,000 live births, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Those concerns are especially pronounced in the nation’s rural areas, which have limited health-care capacity. YWAM volunteers were able to treat the mother of the newborn baby to stop her severe bleeding. She was so grateful for the intervention of these workers that she allowed them to name her new son, who is now called Joshua Gary.
McLaughlin said she does not believe it was a coincidence that YWAM workers were in Kandrian when Joshua Gary was born.
“As I reflect on this series of events, there’s a little baby boy and mom that are alive right now because God orchestrated for us to be in the right place at the right time,” McLaughlin said. “What seemed like impositions and crises led to a miracle.”