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My premature baby wouldn’t have survived

By Meryl Westlake


Gloria Amongi, from Uganda, is 22 and mother to three girls. The youngest, Katusabe, was born four months early by C-section after Gloria was in an accident whilst travelling to get malaria treatment. She would not have survived without the neonatal unit at Lira Regional Referral Hospital.

Gloria is keen to display her gratitude to the hospital. She voluntarily helps other mothers to breastfeed and helps cleans the wards. Despite having no education, and being married whilst a child, Gloria is desperate for her daughters to have better opportunities than she had. She tells her story:

Gloria Amongi and premature baby girl Katusabe at NICU intensive care unit Peter Caton

Gloria Amongi and premature baby girl Katusabe at NICU intensive care unit

Contracting Malaria whilst pregnant

“I wasn’t worried when I became pregnant, as I’ve already had two girls. However I contracted malaria when I was five months pregnant. I went off my food. I had no appetite. 

"I was travelling to get treatment when the car driver came off the road because animals were in the way. There was an accident, I fell and I had to go to hospital where my daughter was born four months early. 

"There was so much blood."

"The treatment they gave me wasn’t working so I had to go for caesarean after I arrived at Lira Regional Referral Hospital. 

"The doctor told me I had to stay with my baby in the neonatal intensive care unit for at least a month so she could get better. 

"I was worried for my child, she came out before the nine months were up."

Getting the treatment she needs

A new mother walks on broken flooring in the maternity ward at Lira Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda. Peter Caton

The neonatal and maternity units at Lira Regional Referral Hospital save the lives of mothers and babies. But they are busy, chaotic and under-funded

"Thankfully my baby is getting better. Here, she’s been kept warm with lights and an incubator. She’s been given food. She’s got treatment and drugs. She has been given lots of oxygen, because she would have collapsed without it as she is small.

"I like it here very much. I see how all the nurses in the neonatal unit love the babies." 

Future plans

"I want to take her home. I want my daughter to be educated, perhaps to become a nurse. I want that for her because I wasn’t educated. My parents died when I was 11. I suffered a lot after that. I was married when I was 14. I stopped going to school when I was in primary school and I feel like it is too late for me to continue in education. 

"With my experience in mind, I don’t want my children to get married early. I want them to have a lot of love from their mother and father because I didn’t have it when I was younger. I know that if they are educated their lives will be better. 

"Katusabe – a baby at just five months pregnant- shouldn’t be alive. I am sure she would have died if the neonatal unit wasn’t here. I thank God for this.”

VSO is working to support Lira neonatal unit, providing vital equipment and training. You can help support our work saving the lives of mothers and babies by making a donation:
 

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