It was a Saturday morning and a normal operational day for our staff in Wewak in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Scheduled that morning was a flight for New Tribes Mission to Sorimi, located to the west of Wewak in the Sepik plains.
Frustration mounted as, at the very last minute, the flight was cancelled because the grass was too high at the airstrip and it would be unsafe to land.
Then the phone rang. On the other end of the line was missionary Jesse Pryor from Samban, calling to request an urgent medical evacuation.
A woman called Agatha had given birth to twins the day before. Sadly, only one of the babies was born alive. Now, 24 hours later Agatha and her baby needed urgent medical attention - her life now in danger from sepsis and a retained placenta.
Pilot Sebastian Kurz was airborne shortly after receiving the phone call and only one-and-a-half hours later the GA8 Airvan landed back in Wewak having collected Agatha, her baby and a relative who would help look after them. Thankfully, the ambulance was already at the airstrip to take Agatha to Wewak Hospital for her life-saving surgery.
‘We are so thankful for MAF’s assistance. We are very thankful that Agatha is alive by the grace of God and that her precious baby is doing well'
Karin Pryor, missionary
If the flight to Sorimi had gone ahead then the MAF plane might not have reached Agatha in time. So despite the frustration of the cancelled flight Pilot Sebastian believes that‚ ‘God had other plans that morning. We cancelled a flight towards the west at very short notice and got a call five minutes later to go and fetch Agatha in the east!‘
Agatha’s life was saved that day and, praise God, her surviving baby is now doing well.
But sadly, the ordeal did not end there for Agatha.
Several weeks after Agatha’s medevac to hospital, troubling news reached the team that showed them that the healthcare services were struggling and in need of urgent prayer.
Arriving at hospital in the ambulance, Agatha had received no medical care for 3 days, other than an IV drip. Potentially crippling damage to Agatha’s hip was left untreated and the added delays meant a more serious medical procedure had to be undertaken before she was prematurely discharged.
Back in her village, Agatha was cared for by the village nurse and an infection related to her poor treatment addressed. But many weeks later, she was still unable to walk without a crutch. Missionaries Jesse and Karie care deeply for Agatha and are fighting her cause to try and improve medical treatment for other women.
Time for change!
Karie is trying to change things for the villagers for the future. ‘Although this is not the first time it has happened, it is always sad,‘ she reflects.
One of the solutions, she believes, is improving the healthcare facilities in rural villages. ‘I am working with our clinic and schools to try to motivate and inspire the youth to study medicine so that in the future we can have resident doctors who would do minor procedures here in the village and avoid all the problems in town.‘
‘God had other plans that morning. We cancelled a flight towards the West at very short notice and got a call five minutes later to go and fetch Agatha in the East!‘
Sebastian Kurz, MAF pilot
‘We are so thankful for MAF’s assistance. We are very thankful that Agatha is alive by the grace of God and that her precious baby is doing well‘ Karin concludes.
With God’s help, cases like Agatha's, highlighting severe problems in the country, can bring about change!
- Please pray for Agatha and others in remote villages that struggle to access the healthcare they need
- Pray for healing for those suffering long-term health conditions and disabilities because medical problems have been left untreated
- Lift up the PNG healthcare system and the doctors and nurses who staff it, asking God for His provision
- Pray for Karie and Jesse Pryor and their vision to support and motivate the next generation of doctors and improve healthcare in remote villages
- MAF flies more than 500 medevac flights every year in PNG. We pray God will watch over each and every one of them. Ask Him to bring more staff to serve PNG, a country with so much need.