Nissima lives in Kampala, Uganda and is 18 years old. Earlier this year she was pregnant for the first time, with twins: a boy and a girl.
A few months before her due date, Nissima went into premature labor. Bleeding and in incredible pain, she was taken to the nearest clinic on the back of a boda boda (motorcycle taxi). Her children were born almost immediately after she arrived. Her son weighed 1.5 kg, her daughter .73 kg.
In the chaos of her delivery Nissima was taken to a private clinic that did have a functioning incubator. Her children were immediately placed inside, but Nissima was informed that she would need to pay 3 million Ugandan shillings for her daughter and son to remain in the incubator. That’s about five times the money that her entire family earns in one month.
Nissima wasn’t able to pay, so her children were taken out of the incubator, and she was discharged immediately. She had no other choice but to race across Kampala to the largest public hospital in Uganda, Mulago Hospital. But on the way there, one of her children—the boy— passed away.
Embrace launched our program on-site at Mulago Hospital in March of 2013. We hired local staff, installed 21 infant warmers, and helped over 550 low birth weight infants in the first six months.
One of the first infants we helped in the neonatal unit there was Nissima’s daughter. She was placed in a warmer immediately and stayed inside of one for several days. Nissima was able to stay by her side, to hold her and feed her, and to assist with changing the warm pack inside the device and keeping it clean.
Meanwhile, Embrace staff spent time side by side with Nissima. They gave her support, explained what hypothermia was, and taught her how to do Kangaroo Care—skin to skin contact in order to continue keeping the baby warm.
Nissima’s daughter stabilized, began to gain weight, and was successfully discharged. When we followed up with them 3 months later, Nissima was still practicing Kangaroo Care at home.
Nissima told us that she is convinced her daughter survived because of Embrace, and that every day her heart aches for her son who didn’t make it.
She named her daughter Fortunate— because she’s alive, and growing every day.