Last year, during my trip to Nicaragua, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the only premature unit in one of the public hospitals in Managua.
Bertha Calderon is a public hospital which focus is in women care, as any pubic hospital in Nic. They rely on government funds for all their needs. This hospital is the only public hospital in the country with a complete unit to take care of premature babies and mothers. Nicaragua only has 1% survival rate for preemies born under 30 weeks.
We arrived around 10 am and meet with Cinthia, the president of the Nicaraguan foundation for preemies. With me, my close friend Campary who also manages Sunshine Handmade Nicaragua. We had to wait at the gate for the chief of the unit to be able to go in, once in, we walked thru a hall that has become an improvised dorm for those mothers waiting for their preemies to be discharged. Some of the mothers are from far away towns, 3 and even 6 hours away. The hospital doesn’t have a separate house to host them while in there, like a Ronald McDonald house, so at the end of the day, they just crash in wherever bed is available.
As we keep walking, the chief is updating Cinthia about the latest cases, including the loss of a baby girl who weighted in only 1 lb when she was born, and she didn’t make it after a week battle.
We had to stop in her office, Cinthia leaves her a bag full of diapers and medicines.
We need to remove all our jewelry (rings, bracelets, and earrings), put on the blue gowns and wash our hands. They're going to let us into one of the lower care units where parents are allowed to stay with their preemies all the time.
We also brought hats for the preemies, so we can go in and meet some that are out of the NICU.
The chief is giving Cinthia an update on what they need right away. As public hospital if they run out of supplies before the end of the month, chances are that a new incoming preemie is not going to receive the proper treatment because they don’t have the resources.
Here is where the foundation comes into action. They are always on top of what is needed for every individual case. Medications, vitamins, equipment, diapers. Once the preemie is out of the hospital, they walk the parents thru the whole process of educating, training and accessing to all the must-have when raising a fragile warrior such as these little ones.
Cinthia keeps writing a list, including a medication is not very accessible but very needed. “I’ll try to find it this week” she said, as we keep meeting parents, listening to their stories and for me, learning what the kangaroo method means.
This is new to me, and my friend Campary, but not for Cinthia. She lost her twin girls a few years ago. They were born before 30 weeks and due to complications, that were not taken care of right away, they both pass away weeks later. She knows exactly what these families are going thru. Like most of the members from this foundations, they all been there.
There are 12 little ones in the NICU, she told us, one little girl passed away the day before and two are not doing so well. I have a stomachache. As a mother of two toddlers I can’t imagine the emotional stress these parents are going thru.
The work this foundation does is truly a remarkable one! Please consider donating to this cause. Most of the people we met in this visit are from limited resources and the foundation takes a lot of time and resources to provide the parents with the proper training and equipment to succeed in this new adventure!
All the people involved in this program are pure volunteers who donate their time and money to help families raise a premature child without the hustle of not knowing what’s next. They also have support groups, educational events, doctors willing to help. But they are still in great need for specialists, equipment, medicines, vitamins and so on.
Sunshine handmade Nicaragua is a social enterprise founded by Leslie Jurguenson, with the main purpose of supporting this foundation financially. Her experience, which you can also find it at Sunshine Facebook page, started in September 2nd, 2013, when their twins were born at 26 weeks in Nicaragua where they were serving as missioners. Andrew survived after 120 days in the hospital, the youngest baby to survive at that hospital.
We left the hospital, feeling a little bit more grateful and compassionate. And with the promise that we will support this project as long as we can.
For those who has experienced this, we would like to hear from you. What can you tell us about your experience?