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40. At the last moment

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Marianne's and Sven's primary mission in Papua New Guinea was to preach the word of God. However, that did not hinder them from also wanting to help people socially and therefore, as we told you earlier, they started to work on a preventive health care. This effort also opened doors for the evangelical work.

Since Marianne was both a trained Nurse and a midwife, she could repeatedly be very helpful, sometimes in tragic circumstances as well.

Marianne speaks: Once, there was a wife of one of our pastors who got very sick. When I examined her, I realized that it was an ectopic pregnancy. I drove her to the hospital. The doctor who examined her said that there was nothing wrong with her. Unfortunately, the Hospital Senior Doctor in charge was on a vacation. But they kept her in the hospital. When I got to the hospital the next day, they had just found that her blood count was so low that she was facing the risk of dying. "You have to give her blood." I told them. "We have no blood, unfortunately." the doctor replied. I called Sven and said that the students at the Vocational Training Centre must come and give blood. Sven came with the students but they didn’t want to give blood because they thought it was dangerous. There was a perception of life itself being kept in the blood, and if you were to give blood, you would die. But after Sven had given his blood, the students did so as well. However, the hospital staff was in no hurry to start blood transfusion.


The hospital in Mount Hagen in the 1980s

When I got to the hospital the following day, day 3, they had still not started giving her blood. After I had got angry and started to wonder what they were doing, they finally started with the blood transfusion. But the woman was getting worse and worse and I saw that she was dying. During the following night, my aunt Ingrid stayed with the woman at her bedside because I was too tired to stay there. When Ingrid saw that the woman was getting worse, she said "You need to call the Hospitel Senior Doctor in charge." "We can’t since he is on vacation." the hospital staff replied. "Yes, but he might have come back by now." my aunt said. Finally, at two o'clock at night, they phoned the Hospitel Senior Doctor in charge and it turned out that he had just come home. He came immediately and examined the lady and ordered immediate surgery. It turned out that the problem was exactly what I had said from the beginning, an ectopic pregnancy. Thanks to the surgery she survived. She was up walking miraculously quick, which we thanked God for.

Another time, when we just got back from a visit to Australia, I was told that there was another pastor's wife who was admitted to the hospital because she was very sick. I went straight to the hospital to visit her. "She has had a pain in her stomach. We put her on a drip and now she is feeling much better." the doctor said. When he was gone, I touched her stomach to see if it could be the appendicitis, or a raptured appendix? After having examined her, I went to the doctor and asked if he thought that it could be appendicitis that had caused the pain in her stomach. No, this was not the case, he said.

I need to explain what it was like in the Mount Hagen hospital at this time. It was the families’ responsibility to provide food for the sick and often a relative under the patient’s bed to be close at hand in need for help. But when the doctors did their rounds, all families had to leave. On this particular day, as I am now telling you about, there was a foreign doctor visiting (he was a doctor at the nearby Catholic mission hospital) and he would also take part in the rounds. Actually, I would also have to leave the ward but I asked the nurse if I could stay in the hope of having the opportunity to exchange a word or two with the visiting doctor. When they came to my sick friend, the domestic doctor said that she had been sick but that she now was much better. They were just about to move on when I turned to the expatriate doctor and said: "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I’m wondering if you could examine her stomach. I think she might have a ruptured appendix." He touched her stomach and said that they would have to prepare for surgery immediately. It turned out, quite correctly, that the appendix was ruptured and the surgery saved her life. I felt that it was God who led me to be helpful in these situations.

On another occasion there was a couple that for a very long time had tried to have children but the woman had had several miscarriages. She finally got pregnant again and to prevent her from miscarrying again, a support for her uterus was put in, a type of net. This meant that before she could give birth, they would have to surgically remove the support but when she was in labor they got the wrong journal, a journal of another person with the same name. When I heard that this woman was about to give birth, I went to the hospital and came just at the right time to prevent this mistake.

When they were to carry out the operation they told me to go home for a few hours. When I came back, the doctor was running with a newborn baby who was completely blue. "Oxygen, oxygen!" he cried. But it turned out that the oxygen was locked in a room and none of the staff on duty at the time had keys to the room. I thought, "She cannot lose another child." I got hold of a couple of men. I told them to break the window to the room where the oxygen was stored. "We cannot do that." they said. "Yes, do it and get in there and open the door." I replied. In this way, we got our hands on the oxygen in time and the baby could be saved.

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