A Life for a Life

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    The perfect gift is making a difference in a time when it matters the most.

    For nine months she carried him in her uterus. Made sure she gets enough sleep and was able to take her iron pills and milk regularly as advised by her Obstetrician. She read him books and let him hear classical music on her iPod because she believes it enhances brain development. She prepared well for nine long months. And now, her precious angel is excited to see the world, with contractions lasting up to five minutes.

    Her initial internal exam revealed a seven centimeters cervical dilatation, she is now on active labor. She bears the painful contractions her baby is making, the passenger is eager to pass through the inlet. Contractions became severe, and then her water bag broke. She couldnít take it anymore, she has the urge to push. The nurses transferred her to the delivery room, placed her on lithotomy position, and draped her. As the babyís head is crowning, she didnít hesitate to push well and hard, for this good, long push would deliver her angel.

    And finally, she heard him, the evidence of his good respiratory effort. As he take his first breath of life and cries to his heartís content, she just couldnít help but make some tears as well. Then, she cuddled him. The warmth of his motherís embrace assured him he is safe.

    This is the miracle of life that we, delivery room nurses experience every day.

    Some says nursing in a day to day aspect spells b-o-r-i-n-g. Patients being admitted, then treated, they are taken care of, some gets better, while some moves on with their Creator. Itís a life-saving duty of rounds and routine. But thatís not the true for me. Life became a big tangible thing every time I witness a birth of a child. For me, it is lifeís ultimate manifestation: life springs from life itself.

    This realization challenged me. What have I done to protect this precious life that Iím carrying in my arms? As I wrap him up with his blankets, will he be kept warm as he grows? As I latch him on his motherís breast, will he be nurtured well in life? As I bathe him with mild soap, will he be able to survive the harsh future? The essence of nursing which is caring does not only limit on whatís here and now. But most importantly on what lies ahead of our patients. And in my case, my newborns.

    Nursing school has taught me that some metabolic diseases will seem unnoticeable upon birth. These metabolic diseases like Phenylketonuria and Congenital Hypothyroidism may lead to severe mental retardation and even death. Infants with metabolic disorders would look normal upon birth, without the clinical signs and symptoms. These diseases are manageable if detected and treated early. And this is through Newborn Screening.

    Here in the Philippines, a law, Republic Act #9288, was passed to support Newborn Screening. This act gives directive to health institutions to include Newborn Screening in the newborn care routine. 33,000 Filipino children affected by these disorders can be saved through screening. These children will be given a quality of life that every child deserves, an opportunity to live freely without the burden of being ďabnormalĒ as some bullies call mentally challenged kids here in our country. Without the shame, stigma and the physical hardships, childhood dreams will come true, all 33,000 of them.

    It is a privilege and a responsibility that our birthing home upholds and conducts Newborn Screening. Our doctors, nurses and midwives do not only act as collecting agents. Part of our duty as Newborn Screening advocates is to educate families especially in remote communities about the importance of this test.

    Difficulties arise when parents cannot meet the expense of having their infants screened despite knowing its significance. Most Filipino parents cannot even offer decent food on the table with their meager income. Parents would rather focus on living in a daily basis than to consider the future health of the family. And this is true to the 60% marginalized Filipino families.

    Seeing that poverty prevents the goal of the health sector to screen all Filipino newborns, we decided to take part in this battle cry for equality, that health should be made available to all.

    Through the initiative of our doctors, nurses and midwives, we organized a Newborn Screening Fun Run, a fund-raising activity to help sponsor the screening of newborns from the poorest of the poor families. We have gathered almost 300 participants who jogged, walked and run to support one common goal-to screen every infant upon birth.

    This seems too good to be true, but it happened. It was a sight to behold, seeing a sea of people wearing the same running shirt and advocating for the same purpose. Most of our participants were community health workers, teachers and students. They didnít only increase awareness of Newborn Screening to the public but they have helped give free screening to infants of underprivileged families. I can only imagine the lives that will be saved through this activity and the children who will be given second chances to live a healthier life.

    So far, we have already given free Newborn Screening to a number of infants. Results were in, and itís a good thing that none were tested positive in any of the five metabolic diseases. Positive results would trigger a sigh of relief. For this would mean weíve met our goal, which is early detection and in response would lead to early treatment. This hand in hand fight to promote Newborn Screening has been our pledge to the community. Together, we will zero in chances of mental retardation and death caused by congenital metabolic diseases.

    This power-in-number activity broadened my understanding of the gift of life. It revealed a whole new meaning in my duty as a nurse. That nurses are not just here to serve and save lives, nurses are protectors of life as well. Because more than anything else, I believe it is my life that has been the best present I have received.

    Then it made me remember. Once upon a time, in a cold night in Bethlehem, a child was born. A carpenterís son was born on a manger under a bright star. Not a single principle of sterility was observed. This child was believed to bring hope. He was believed to save humanity. And He did, 33 years after when he died on the cross. This season, we are celebrating his birth. And this season is the perfect time to give back.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 2, '12

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    About dorygabo

    I'm a staff nurse in a Birthing Home here in the Philippines. This is my first Nursing job and I love it. I love being a nurse.

    From 'Bacolod City'; Joined Jun '11; Posts: 9; Likes: 13.

    Read more articles from dorygabo

    23 Comments so far...

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    Oh gosh, it was an awesome article until you alienated everyone who do not believe in Christianity...why oh why can we not keep religion out of the mix?
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    RE: "Because more than anything else, I believe it is my life that has been the best present I have received...This child was believed to bring hope. He was believed to save humanity....This season, we are celebrating his birth."

    Thank you, Dorygabo for expressing what I, too feel. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to touch lives and be thankful for all that G-d has given me. I, too, often thought of these themes while in clinicals and I imagine that I will continue to feel Jesus in my heart throughout my path to become a nurse.
  5. 2
    Wonderful article until the last paragraph. Almost got out my checkbook, too.
    mmiriamasher and merrywhiterose like this.
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    A very touching and informative read and I appreciate you sharing in your last paragraph your beliefs. Please do not ever feel discouraged to do so.
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    What is the problem with the last paragraph? Religion bothers you so? That is a bit sad that people are so judgemental that a nice and interesting article is suddely disregarded because she believes in God. If you don't believe, then take it with a passing thought that her religion brings her comfort, what brings you yours? And share it with us, unless you are afraid to get judged as well.
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    hey guys, thank you for the insights. I do appreciate your thoughts about my article. Religion is indeed a sensitive topic. But I hope we all respect the beliefs and opinions of one another. We may differ in our beliefs, but we are all nurses. This noble profession molded us to be dynamic and culturally diverse. Because we care for our patients regardless of their religion, race or political beliefs. We are nurses.
    Leslie Taylor, sckooshy1, SE_BSN_RN, and 1 other like this.
  9. 1
    much love and respect.
    sckooshy1 likes this.
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    I applaud you for speaking your faith. In this age of political correctness, many feel they have to keep quiet about their beliefs for fear of offending someone. It takes courage to profess your faith in mixed company, and not everyone can do it. Good for you for speaking up.

    It is a shame that some people will choose to disregard the entirety of your article because they have different beliefs. Why can we not take from it whatever speaks to us, and disregard a part if it does not?
  11. 0
    You should've left out the last paragraph.


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