Puspa Pandhak was just finishing her duty at a rural hospital in Tehrathum district last week when a 19-year-old woman was brought in on a stretcher, writhing in pain.
As a birth attendant nurse, Pandhak had performed more than 100 safe deliveries in the past five years, but this maternity case was the first breech she was having to deal with.
“As soon as I saw the position of the baby, we decided not to take the risk and take her to Tehrathum Hospital,” Pandhak says.
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But, as is often the case in rural Nepal, they could not get an ambulance. The condition of the mother and baby was deteriorating, and every second counted.
Luckily, a four-wheel drive jeep just happened to pass by and gave them a lift. Pandhak and fellow nurse Sumnima Khapung got on with their patient, taking along their delivery kits.
The road was bumpy and dangerous, made worse by the previous day’s heavy rain and the pitch black night. It was already 9:30PM, and they were nowhere near their destination.
“It was a rough ride, and we were being thrown about inside the car, but I tried to reassure the young expecting mother since this would be her first baby,” Pandhak recalls.
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In the front seat, the patient’s mother and husband were panicking, and that was not helping at all. Then driver Dinesh Bhattarai also started getting unnerved, and that was not a good sign.
It was now nearly 11PM, and it did not look like they would get to the district hospital in time. Pandhak made the tough decision to stop the journey in the small bazar of Tukre.
“The trip was becoming too long due to the poor road condition and I knew we would never reach the hospital where an emergency doctor and midwife team were on standby to receive us,” Pandhak recounts. “I was very nervous, but knew that the mother was in bad shape and I needed to help somehow.”