Imagine how it would feel to save someone’s life. Now think about having that feeling again. And again. And again. And again. All in one day.
Saving one life is a privilege few of us may ever experience, let alone saving five. But it happened to two MAF pilots not long ago.
Ester gave birth early one morning in a small village called Yapsie deep in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands. After a difficult and complex labour, her retained placenta caused life-threatening complications. By sunset, staff at the small aid post were still battling to stop the bleeding.
Tragically, Ester’s baby died.
As night fell, Ester was left fighting for her life. The team needed urgent medical help — but who could reach them in time? By foot, it would take days to reach the city hospital, travelling across treacherous mountain paths. Ester probably wouldn't survive until morning.
The team prayed, and radioed Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) — Ester's only hope.
Receiving the call, pilots Mathias Glass and Ryan Cole planned a medevac (an emergency medical flight) to the Yapsie airstrip at sunrise – it was too dark to fly as it was now night-time. They prayed that Ester would hold on until morning.
Meet Osa and her unborn child
As the pilots slept and Ester clung on to life, Osa was writhing in labour.
Struggling to deliver a breached baby, the midwife at the Telefomin clinic knew both lives were at stake. An emergency operation was needed at the city hospital if mother and child were to survive. The midwife prayed and radioed MAF — Osa and her baby’s only hope.
The plane could land at Telefomin en route from Yapsie.
One patient had become three.
As the pilots woke, Ester clung to life, Osa writhed in labour, her unborn baby fought to enter the world, and Kolina battled with excruciating pain from intestinal problems at the Telefomin clinic.
It was clear to staff at the clinic that Kolina needed to get on the same flight as Ester and Osa, to receive the help she needed at the city hospital. She too was in a critical condition.
Three patients had become four.
As the pilots prepared for take-off, Ester clung to life, Osa writhed in agony, her unborn baby battled to enter the world, and Kolina struggled to manage the pain, Lucy was diagnosed with tuberculosis. It was a miracle that MAF was on the way!
This too was Lucy’s only way to receive medical treatment. Because of her age, she would never have survived the overland journey.
Four patients had become five.
One aircraft, five survivors
Thanks to the expertise of MAF pilots Mathias and Ryan, and the aviation charity’s ability to respond, all five patients reached Tabubil city hospital in time. Each woman received the treatment she needed.
Lucy remains in our prayers as she receives life-saving medical care.
Kolina’s intestinal pains were due to an unexpected and complicated pregnancy. She will remain in hospital until the birth of her baby, safe in the hands of a midwifery team.
Osa gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Rosalind. Both mother and baby are doing well.
Ester continues to mourn the loss of her baby but has now returned to Yapsie to continue her recovery after the surgery that saved her life.
MAF carries out more than 4,000 medical flights each year, bringing life-saving help to those without access to hospital care.
For almost 75 years, MAF has helped thousands of isolated people receive the life-saving help they needed to survive.
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