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A Dangerous Delivery: Life Saving Care at St. Boniface Hospital

“I realized that if I gave birth at home I would have died.”

A bright, fresh coat of white replaced what had previously been pitch black. As the darkness receded from Plesilia’s vision, images came back to her of the emergent delivery. The last thing she remembered after delivering her fifth child was red blood pooling around her.

Plesilia holding her newborn baby

Plesilia had successfully delivered each of her other four children at home without complication. Thankfully, she decided to deliver her fifth and final child at St. Boniface Hospital. Before losing consciousness, Plesilia, age 36, arrived at the hospital in pain. She had been counseled during her prenatal checkups where nurses and physicians frequently reminded her of the importance of delivering at the hospital – particularly if she experienced anything unusual in the weeks before the due date.

Plesilia decided to visit the hospital because she felt different than she had during previous deliveries and was worried about complications. At 8:50pm on Tuesday, Plesilia successfully delivered a healthy boy. Ten minutes later she slipped out of consciousness on a cot in the delivery room.

Dr. Guerrier, St. Boniface Hospital’s OB/GYN, rushed Plesilia to the operating room as profuse bleeding sapped her strength. Time was short. After a hysterectomy to control the situation, it was clear that Plesilia had lost too much blood. She would die very soon.

Plesilia desperately needed a blood transfusion. Because blood banks require significant resources, there are only a few sites in Haiti. Typically, in dire situations, the protocol is to dispatch an ambulance to retrieve blood from Les Cayes or Port-au-Prince – both six-hour round trips. However, fortunately for Plesilia, St. Boniface Hospital was hosting a surgical team, and had extra blood on hand as a precaution.

The transfusion rejuvenated Plesilia. Twenty-four hours later, at 10pm on Wednesday night, she opened her eyes. Light crept in, outlining the room and her newborn son being attended to by a nurse. Plesilia wept with thankfulness to be able to see her child.

She wept to be alive.