Four Lives on the Line
Organized by: Mellie Tyrosvoutis
Mellie Tyrosvoutis via Crowdrise
January 17, 2016
Many of us live in a world where we have the luxury of choice - where to eat, what clothes, or car or house to buy, where to travel for vacation... Funds from this campaign will go directly to cover medical costs for two young mothers and their infants, born into a world where these choices are not available to them.
- Stateless pregnant women and their infants live day to day with no safety net, some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world.
- An estimated 2 million refugees and migrant workers from Myanmar live in Thailand.
- The vast majority cannot access the Thai healthcare system where they live because of cost and legal barriers.
- The Myanmar health system is barely functional in rural areas after half a century of dictatorship and conflict.
- Along the border, most migrant workers make $3-5 a day.
- The cost of one day's admission in the Intensive Care Unit at at Thai hospital is about $150-$200.
Below are stories of two pregnant women - one migrant worker and one refugee - who are fighting for their lives and the lives of their babies.
Day Mu is a 19 year old young woman from Myanmar who was working as a migrant worker in Bangkok with her husband until she became pregnant. A few months into her pregnancy, she decided to return to her family in Myanmar to wait for the arrival of her baby with the support of her mother and older sister.
After being home for a few weeks she developed a sore throat and cough, followed by a fever. She went to the small local clinic and was given several medicines. Assuming she would start feeling better soon, she left with her family to go to work in their remote mountain rice paddies. Over the next few days, however, she grew more and more unwell, until she was struggling for each breath. Her family called the local health worker who gave her an injection, but she continued to worsen. Finally they carried her across the border into Thailand where they sought care at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) clinic nearby.
On arrival, she was almost dead. The clinic staff quickly started life-saving treatment but she was already too sick for the resources they had available. They put her in the back of an emergency transfer pickup truck and rushed her to Mae Sot Hospital. There she was taken directly to the Intensive care unit and diagnosed with severe pneumonia. That night, her heart stopped once and she required CPR and electric shock treatment to bring her back to life. Amazingly, she is now stable and her unborn child (now 5 months) is still alive. However, she is likely to need at least an additional week of intensive care treatment in order to recover.
Meanwhile, at another SMRU clinic, at 23 year old expectant mother, Paw Wah, arrived with slight abdominal pain and bleeding. The ultrasonographer who checked her recognized that something ominous was occurring: there was bleeding between the placenta and the uterus wall. She was still more than 2 months before her due date, but the consequences of waiting could be catastrophic for both mother and baby so she, too, was referred to Mae Sot Hospital where she underwent an emergency cesarean section to save her life.
After the operation she needed multiple blood transfusions but recovered well. Her infant, on the other hand, was in critical condition. Much of the bleeding behind the placenta was, in fact, blood that should have gone to the baby, so she was born premature, severely anemic and near death. She, too, is gradually improving but still requires Intensive Care.
Every day at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border we use low-cost interventions and investigations in hopes of diagnosing illnesses early and treating promptly. However, occasionally we come across cases that are so sick, referral to the Thai Hospital system is the only option to save their lives. Unfortunately, we don't have the budget to support these patients beyond a couple of days if they require Intensive Care or other high-tech interventions. The families of these patients have no way to pay themselves, and the Thai Hospital system has limited charity care.
Please help us give these young mothers and their babies a chance to live. Without your support we will soon run out of money to cover their hospital expenses. Thanks for your help! Any money we raise beyond their expenses will go to support other cases like them.
(Note: names were changed and stock photos used to protect patient confidentiality.)