2:30 am Surprise

My youngest daughter who is a medical doctor is presently serving in the remote Karanda hospital in Zimbabwe. I lifted the following story from her blog. She says that the only course for which she ever got a B was in writing but I find this true story touching and so I thought that I’d share it. If you are interested you can access Anne’s blog through the following link:  http://hotzesbeyondtheborder.blogspot.com/

Two nights ago when I was on call at the hospital, I received a phone call at 230am from the maternity ward requesting for me to come do a C section.  I asked why the patient needed a C section.  I was told on the phone it was her fourth C section, or at least that’s what I thought the nurse said.  I clarified, “it is her fourth C section?”  The nurse said, “yes”.  I asked, “is she in labor?”  Again, “yes”.   So I said I would be right in.

Upon arrival to the operating room where anesthesia was already putting in a spinal, I noticed that her abdomen did not have an apparent scar on it. I asked, “I do not see a scar, why are we doing a C section?” The anesthetist said, “for tubal.” At least that’s what I thought he said. I thought this was a somewhat odd indication for a C section, although it would not be the first time I had seen it done (even in the United States). But I clarified again, because when he said “tubal” it did not sound crisp and clear. He said, “tubal” again. And then I repeated it, to which he replied “yes”.

So we started a C section without any problems. The time came when I entered the uterus and pulled out the infant. It was smaller than I had anticipated, and I thought it must be growth restricted. I next pulled the placenta out, but noted that the uterus was still quite large. So I reached in while thinking, I wonder if there is a twin that nobody knew about? Sure enough, I could feel another infant! So I broke its amniotic sac and pulled it out, followed by the placenta. At that moment, I thought, “oh they must have been saying twins when I thought they said tubal,” as nobody else but me seemed surprised in the room. But given that I had been surprised by one extra infant inside the uterus, I thought I should be sure and thoroughly explore the uterus to make sure there were no more surprises. Sure enough, a third infant was inside, also with its own amniotic sac and placenta. Triplets.

All the babies and mother did fine. 1.4, 1.5 and 1.7 kilograms. 2 boys, 1 girl.

Only in Africa.


© April 2014, Anne Hofer

8 thoughts on “2:30 am Surprise

    • Yes indeed, they are being amply rewarded by an accumulation of unusual memories to be treasured into old age. Some of their stories are not so heart-warming and are downright sad, including the deaths which could have ben avoided if they had had the equipment available in the US and so on.
      I can’t put “Cheerio” on that one,

    • I looked up the probability of having triples if fertility enhancements are not being used – it is reported to be 1 in 8,000. This makes me think that many doctors may never get to deliver them, certainly not as a surprise. I am gong to ask my daughter, when the internet / phone connections to Karanda are up again, what “tubal’ meant. It might have been referring to performing a tubal ligation after the delivery which might have explained the request for a C section if an otherwise normal delivery was expected.
      Thank you for your visit and comment,

    • At 1 in 8,000 births triplets are quite a rarity when fertility enhancements are not in use,as in the Karanda hospital. I understand that they have a high percentage of twins and other ‘complicated” births as many of those without complications don’t go into the hospital to deliver.

  1. Zimbabwe is a sad country and I really admire your daughter for her selfless service that will no doubt help some of the unfortunates there. I’ve visited other undeveloped countries where expatriates have served under difficult conditions and in some cases life threatening circumstances. It is gratifying to see that there are still some in the world who leave the comforts of home and support of family to care for the needs of the underprivileged human race.

    • You comments are so kind but know that my daughter has her family with her. She is in Zimbabwe with her doctor husband and daughter of 18 months and she is now 5 months pregnant herself. They are coming back to the US for the birth of #2 before going off for another stint abroad.
      We are very proud as you can probably tell.

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