She was a mother six times over. Six times she experienced the gut-wrenching pains of labor. Six times she hoped; but every time her hopes were shattered and her heart broken.
After watching six babies die in her arms within 48 hours of birth, Maiya came to Scheer Memorial Hospital, discouraged and depressed, tired and in labor with her seventh child. Accompanying her was her husband, indifferent and resigned to their fate. Ashamed of being a man without a son to carry his name, he was an alcoholic.
Maiya’s blood group is Rh Negative; her babies were born Rh Positive. Following the birth of each Rh Positive baby, Maiya should have been immunized. This simple immunization would have prevented the deaths of her babies. However, Maiya has never been able to afford the $50 for the injection. Each pregnancy without the immunization decreased the chances of survival of every consecutive baby.
Fortunately for Maiya, the hospital’s pediatrician, Dr. Jevlyn Frias, identified the problem shortly after the baby’s birth. Theoretically, a blood exchange transfusion could save the baby. However, hearing the mother speak despondently of having lost six children, Dr. Frias realized that the situation needed more than medical theories. She watched the parents gaze upon their child with resignation. There were no smiles, no balloons, no cooing to welcome this child, only fear in anticipation of his fate.
Putting her arm around Maiya, Dr. Frias spoke with great confidence—woman to woman, mother to mother, Christian to Hindu. “We will pray for your baby. You and your husband should also pray. We will do all we can and God will surely help us.”
Over the next 48 hours, the baby had two exchange transfusions. Each transfusion involved 48 cycles of removing 10 ml of the baby’s blood and replacing it with 10 ml of Rh Negative blood. Dr. Frias did the transfusions herself, continuously watching over and praying for the baby. Like Jacob of old, Dr. Frias wrestled with God “You cannot let this mother lose another child. Stay with me, help me”
By the third day, the baby’s sallow face began to turn a healthy pink. Both father and mother never dreamed they’d see a baby of theirs alive on the third day. A tired Dr. Frias stood at the doorway watching the mother breastfeed her baby, the father tickle his young son’s toes.
Day five was the Sabbath and the baby was out of danger. Dr. Frias, along with Maiya, shared with the church congregation their story of God’s mercy and grace. The testimony began with Dr. Frias, the pediatrician, explaining the medical condition but ended with Dr. Frias, a servant of God, crying tears of joy.
To the few of us Adventists in Nepal, incidents like this remind us of the powerful role we are privileged to play in God’s scheme of things. In a land where we cannot be the voice of Jesus, we can be His hands and feet. What an honor to be part of this church and its great commission.
Each of us, no matter where we live or what we do, have a vital purpose. It is not always about profound ideas, large baptisms and spectacular presentations; it can be as simple as a heart of compassion.