Stories of Hope – Josephine

In 2005, a young mother with an eight month old baby visited our OBGYN clinic. Our doctor knew that Josephine had a serious infection The patient spiked a fever, and the doctors feared that she was headed into septic shock, and death.
The pharmacy did not have antibiotics strong enough to take immediate effect. Josephine’s attending physician hypothesized that the young woman suffered from a fistula. This complication of childbirth is common, involving a tissue tear between the vagina and rectum.

In the United States, a fistula is quickly repaired as part of the delivery procedure. In developing countries, these young mothers don’t have that option. An infection often sets in, and it can be life threatening. When these mothers get a toxic infection, they often die, leaving babies and small children orphaned. If they survive, their husbands may reject them, or they may be treated as outcasts altogether. They often suffer a great deal of pain.

Our Greensboro group decided that we needed a plan for such foreseeable illnesses, right then and there. One of us had brought a small amount of powerful antibiotics, “just in case.” Our patient, Josephine was directed to take the antibiotics.
We started a “contingency fund,” from our own pockets, and planned to take her to Philippines General Hospital in Manila for care. Some of us started out immediately on the 24 hour bus trip, over rutted roads, and by boat in between islands. Josephine made it. The antibiotics worked so well, that surgery was not required. We arranged for her to stay with some of her relatives in the area, during the month that she received care as an outpatient.

The hospital enrolled her in a heath care plan, and gave her papers so that she could return for charity care, if needed. We had no idea that welfare was available. We arranged for someone to buy her a bus ticket for the trip home. About six months later, we received a very long letter from Josephine, thanking our group for saving her life. She had to ask around a great deal to get our address.

On a subsequent visit, we visited her with her family, and their latest addition: little Bradford, named for the person who gave her the antibiotics. We made some additions to the family pantry, and we hoped that she would continue to do well. During our 2008 medical mission, Josephine came to clinic for a check up, and we were glad to see her doing well.