Five lives, one flight

Five lives, one flight

When a medevac flight was delayed by bad weather God’s sovereign purposes were at work in a seemingly hopeless situation

At the end of that particular Friday at the end of March, the Telefomin Twin Otter crew, Captain Mathias Glass and First Officer Ryan Cole, were rather frustrated!

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Challenging weather meant it had taken them longer to fly back from Mount Hagen to Tari.

They had to cancel a flight to Tekin, which would have delivered store goods and picked up eight passengers, some of them Community Health Worker students waiting to return to their studies in Telefomin after their placement at the remote Tekin Health Centre. 

Then en route back to Telefomin staff they were informed via the radio of a request for a medical evacuation flight (medevac) from Yapsie to Tabubil.

With the weather closing in, navigation became more difficult, increasing the flight time just when saving time was most critical!

They eventually found a small hole in the clouds and descended into the Telefomin valley.

Unfortunately, by the time they landed they had run out of daylight hours to fly the medevac from Yapsie to Tabubil.

An anxious night for Ester

The lady who had needed the medevac, was on everyone's mind as they sat down to dinner that evening. 

Ester, had given birth earlier that morning.

The baby had tragically died straight away, while Ester, who had a retained placenta, continued losing blood – far too much for the small aid post’s workers to deal with. 

Outside the weather had cleared again, revealing all the surrounding mountain ridges, leading to a stunning sunset that evening.

As the pilots gave thanks for the food they praying that Ester would make it through the night.

Sunset after the stormy weather

Three more medevacs - make four!

As they were preparing to depart early the next morning to pick up Ester, a call for another medevac came in over the HF radio.

Overnight  Osa, had developed complications delivering her baby at the Telefomin hospital and needed emergency surgery for a breach birth at Tabubil. 

A further young woman, Kolina, was experiencing painful intestinal problems, so the Telefomin District Health Administrator, who had requested the original charter, agreed to send her to Tabubil for further care too.

Then as final preparations were being made and the weather report was being called in, there was a request for a fourth patient, Lucy, diagnosed with Tuberculosis to be added to the flight.

A plane full of patients and carers

Ester, mourning the loss of her baby from the aircraft

Osa and Ester were both brought to the aircraft on stretchers, and secured into the plane along with the IV drips that would help to keep them stable until they reached the hospital. 

Osa's midwife, Judith, traveled with her all the way to the hospital to care for her during the flight.

Lucy's daughter was also on board the flight as a support for her mother. 

Ester's husband (next to Lucy) accompanied her, comforting each other through the grief for their lost child. 

Lucy, the elderly women in the pink shirt, most likely had TB. She was accompanied by her daughter, sitting in the back row.

God's perfect plan fulfilled

So, one medevac the night before turned out to be four the next morning! 

Each of the four ladies was given a medevac care bag filled with essentials including toiletries and clothes lovingly packed and donated by the MAF Mt Hagen ladies.

The flight ended well - all four patients received the treatment they needed and reached the hospital in time.  

The pilots were reminded that despite the frustration of not being able to fly the medevac that Friday afternoon, God was in control.

He knew that waiting 15 hours would enable the aircraft to help more people more efficiently without risking the health of the first medevac patient!

Following up on the four women

Judith, the midwife, was prepared to deliver Osa's baby in the aircraft but praise God that after the two 25 minute flight sectors she eventually delivered a healthy baby girl, Rosalind, safely at the hospital at Tabubil!

Osa and her husband with baby Rosalind

Ester continues to mourn the loss of her baby but is recovering and has now returned to Yapsie. 

Kolina is still at the hospital. Her intestinal issues were due to pregnancy and she will remain in hospital until the birth of her baby.

We do not have an update on the elderly patient, Lucy, but continue to pray for her full and speedy recovery.

Please continue to pray with us for the MAF medevac flights that save hundreds of lives every year in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and 24 other countries across the world   

Story by Mandy Glass, video narrated by Siobhain Dales