Sunday, 22 January 2012

The tragic death of 3 month old Baby Nathalie & the NHS

Have I told you that I live in the Philippines?

The custom here in the Philippines on Christmas Day is that kids take to the streets visit their godparents where they expect to get Christmas presents. There's no such thing as 'silent night' and 'heavenly peace' here, Christmas is all about noise and crowded streets.

My twin godsons Nathanael and Paul visited me this last Christmas (as they do every year without fail) with the whole family (wife, children, parents, sister, nephews and nieces etc). Nathanael was really proud of his baby daughter Nathalie who was three months old.  She was such a cute baby. We had a nice time together and of course we gave gifts and goodies for all the children.

You can imagine how shocked I was to receive a text a couple of weeks later asking me to lead the funeral as baby Nathalie had died.
As we rushed to the family home for the wake, little Nathalie's body lay lifeless in the home made casket (that was made by granddad from wood donated by caring neighbours) which was covered in balls of cotton wool (a typical style for the coffins of children of poor families). They couldn't afford funeral, embalming and undertakers costs, so she had to be buried within 24 hours.

Here in the Philippines there is no NHS.  Thankfully there is at least the PhilHealth now, through which patients are able to get help with hospital bills (usually not including medication) IF they are up-to-date with their payments.  Sadly there are many hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who can't afford daily food much less PhilHealth and therefore have no medical aid.

Babies such as Nathalie are born at home with no professional medical assistance.  Usually there is an old lady in the village 'experienced' in assisting with child birth who will offer her services for a small contribution. 

One time I was sitting in my GP's surgery when a young woman ran in with a baby that I guessed was a plump 3 month old.  It turned out that Timothy was a newborn baby, the 'old lady' in the village didn't have the means to suck the birth fluid and free the baby's airway and he died.  My GP freed his airway but she couldn't revive him.  He was a healthy 8-10lbs at birth.  What a tragedy!!

Then there was the woman who couldn't afford a Cesarean Section so the midwife in the hospital tried to pull the baby from the mother and actually decapitated the infant.  Of course no money for a Cesarean Section also means no money for a lawsuit and nothing was done about that baby's tragic death.

For babies born at home there is then of course no hope of any new birth screening.  
Who knows if baby Nathalie was actually born with some serious disorder?  All we know is that she seemed to be out of sorts, but the family had no money to take her for a medical check up.  She then got a fever and the grandfather rushed her to emergency.  They gave her an injection of something (probably to get her heart pumping), but it was too late, she died minutes after her arrival.

As the grandfather tried to take his lifeless granddaughter home, he was stopped by a guard at the hospital door and told that he couldn't leave with the baby because he had to settle all bills first.  At which point the grandfather lost his composure and threatened to kill the guard. ( I'm sure he meant it too!!)  So the guard finally consented with the doctor's approval, to let them go.

Nathalie's young mother fainted at the graveside because she was just not able to accept the tragic loss of her baby.  Very sad!!!

To all my British friends, fight with all you can to keep the NHS.  It is terrible living in a country where there is no free medical assistance and you just can't afford for your child to be sick.  Many people lose their children and they don't even know why.  When their children get sick they just don't have the means to have a medical check up, and many deaths could have so easily been prevented.  How many innocent British children will be lost if we lose the NHS?  I hope it will never come to that!!


  1. We know the NHS isn't perfect, but what is? When you - and more importantly - your children - need it, the amazing people who work in the NHS are right there. I know things go wrong sometimes, but I firmly believe, like Chrissy, that we should be grateful and fight for this service. My heart breaks when I read Chrissy's stories of children dying for lack of amenities that we take competely for granted.

  2. such a sad story. Don't forget- we have Mercy in Action Charity Birth Center here in Olongapo now. They are a Christian org providing first class prenatal care and deliveries for FREE!Please refer your moms to them!