May 10, 2006

Coalition doctors deliver Afghan baby

Coalition doctors deliver Afghan baby girl at PRT

By Sgt. Cain S. Claxton, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition medical providers performed an emergency Cesarean-section delivering a healthy baby girl and preserving the 22-year-old Afghan mother's life at the Tarin Khowt Provincial Reconstruction Team clinic April 23.

"We received a phone call from a U.S. Special Forces medic saying there was a young woman who was in the late stages of her pregnancy with preeclampsia," said Army Lt. Col. Kevin Johnson, the PRT's chief surgeon. "They called and asked if I could treat this."

Preeclampsia, a syndrome which may cause seizures and requires immediate delivery of a baby during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, threatened the mother's life and the health of the unborn child, the surgeon said.

A C-section was the mother's only option for delivery.

During the flight from Char Chineh, the woman's condition worsened as she began having seizures. The medical team on the ground at the Tarin Kwot PRT acted quickly. Johnson credited the successful delivery of the baby girl to the actions of Army Cpt. John Murphy, a nurse anesthetist, and Army Maj. Scott Shawen, an orthopedic surgeon.

"It was a stroke of brilliance that Dr. Shawen pulled us all together right away so everyone could share what they knew," Johnson said. "Everybody had a little bit of experience in this; none of us had a lot."

No one at the Tarin Kowt PRT had any previous experience performing a C-section. Johnson said he used the internet to watch a short video on the surgery while waiting for a helicopter to transport the expectant mother and father to the clinic.

"It was definitely a ‘see one, do one' operation," said Johnson, who used the University of Michigan's Web site to familiarize himself with the procedure. "I must say that I was quite nervous. We started and finished delivering the baby in less than five minutes."

The mother, Wahida, gave birth to the 17-and-one-quarter inch baby girl.

Johnson and Shawen said Murphy provided the bulk of the effort in delivering the baby girl.

"The key person was Captain Murphy," Shawen said. "He was all over it – everything from anesthetizing the mother, taking care of her airway, and resuscitating the baby."

After making sure the mother was asleep and stable, Murphy said the procedure went smoothly. But moments after birth, "the baby wasn't as responsive as we would have liked … she was still really blue," he said. ohnson called Murphy to resuscitate the newborn, which he did.

"Both mother and baby are just fine," Johnson said. They remained at the Tarin Kowt PRT clinic during recovery.

Wahida and her husband, Dr. Mujieb, medical providers themselves, named their newborn, Amanda, after discussing possible names with an Army nurse, Murphy said.

"I don't know why they chose that name, but she'll probably be the only kid on the block named, ‘Amanda,' here," he said.

Murphy said he is working to bring anesthesia capabilities to the Afghan hospital in Tarin Khowt. Presently, there are no Afghan anesthesia providers in Uruzgan province.

"In this case, we're the only option," Murphy said about the emergency C-section delivery. "We were just happy to be able to help."

And I am sure they are just happy to have you do so.

Wonderful story.

Welcome to a free Afghanistan, Amanda.

Posted by Kyer at May 10, 2006 08:22 PM | TrackBack