Rest in Peace Sweet Baby Ashley

30 08 2013


We are very sad to say good-bye to Baby Ashley Manzano who has become a big part of our lives over these past four months.  Ashley went home to be with Jesus on Wednesday August 28 after a lifelong battle with repeated lung infections that were never diagnosed.

Ashley was born at our clinic on March 18, 2012 and was transported to the hospital immediately for breathing difficulties. Ashley’s mother Julies never came back for her follow-up check-ups at the clinic and we didn’t see her again until over a year later.

This April Julies and Ashley came to attend a Well-Baby seminar at our clinic.  Ashley was more than a year old then and still only weighed 10 pounds. She also seemed to be suffering from severe pneumonia.  Julies told us that she had been back and forth to various doctors to try to get help her for her daughter but was continually told that it was her own fault that Ashley was sick because  she was malnourished.  Julies told us that she tried to go to the community health center to ask if they could help and the midwife just looked at Ashley and looked back at Julies with condemnation and said “It’s severe malnutrition!” As a last resort Julies brought Ashely to us to see if we could do anything to help.

For the last four months Ashley was a big part of my life.  I tried to get a concrete diagnosis for her condition but she kept having these terrible bouts of pneumonia that we had to deal with. Julies tried to get Ashley’s weight up by giving her high protein milk. Ashley’s dad found them a safer place to live that gave them some protection from the weather. Ashley was hospitalized four times in the last four months, each time getting weaker. When we took Ashley for her third admission to the hospital I spoke quite forcibly and told the doctor that it was NOT MALNUTRITION!  I then heard one doctor whisper to another that it was probably Cystic Fibrosis. We never did have a chance to take her to Manila for further testing – I don’t know if she would have made it back even if we had.

Last Wednesday morning Ashley was at home with her mom. Julies was getting ready to take her to the hospital again and as she was getting dressed she heard Ashley call out “Mama”.  When she turned around Ashley had stopped breathing. She rushed her to the hospital where she could not be resuscitated. My social worker Kate and I arrived a few minutes later to hold Julies and cry with her. I still cry every time I think of Julies holding her precious Ashley in her arms, calling out to her to ‘wake up’.

Sometimes I get so sad and discouraged with the lack of medical care available here in the Philippines. I don’t know if it is because of the lack of diagnostic tools available, but the blame for childhood illnesses is usually shifted to the parents; they are not doing enough or they are doing something wrong.  With this blame comes enough guilt and grieving to break your heart.

Please pray for Julies, her husband and her three other children. Please pray that they will find peace in knowing that Ashley’s suffering is over and she is waiting to see them again. Please pray that they will find freedom from guilt and condemnation in the arms of Jesus.

Our very own Graduate!

20 04 2013

Here is a wonderful story about how God puts people together in miraculous ways!

Melody and her dad at her Graduation.

Melody and her dad at her Graduation.

Two years ago my staff midwife B-lyn asked if there were any sponsors willing to help her cousin finish midwifery school. Her cousin Melody,  is the oldest child of six and her family just didn’t have the funds to put her through school. She had had a sponsor that was helping her  but when she switched her course from Education to Midwifery her sponsor decided that he didn’t want to continue funding her education.

I told B-lyn that I didn’t know of anyone at that time but that we should pray and ask God to work something out.

We prayed.

God answered.

A few weeks after we prayed, Deanne Hancock, a fellow 1992 MEI grad (that was my highschool) who I probably haven’t spoken to in person since 1992, emailed me and asked if there was anyone I knew of that she could support through Midwifery school. She was wanting to give to something that would have a lasting effect.  Yes, I definitely knew of someone!

So for the last two years Deanne has sponsored Melody through Midwifery school  while we have given Melody hands-on training at the clinic.

” I’m thrilled that such a relatively small contribution can have the potential to have a positive effect on Melody and multiply to everyone she helps as well.”  – Deanne

Melody graduated this March 2013 and is now volunteering with us at AGGMC until she writes her board exam and gets her license.

God is so cool!

Our Midwife Had a Baby!

15 02 2013


Me, B-lyn and Ethan at their home in Lacnog.

Me, B-lyn and Ethan at their home in Lacnog.

Evelyn Pullis Dungoc, my longtime friend and fellow midwife at Abundant gave birth to her own sweet baby on January 24.

Ethan Michael Dungoc was born at Abundant clinic and I was so blessed to be his midwife! What an amazing experience to help my fellow midwife give birth. Evelyn (B-lyn) has been working with me since I very first started in 2006 and we have been friends since my first trip to Kalinga in 2004. Wow, that is almost 10 years!

Congratulations to B-lyn and her wonderful husband Ramon on your gorgeous son!



31 12 2012

Achao, Georgia, Emmaus and Lucas are thrilled to announce the arrival of a new little Macad boy. Zion Simpson Macad was born at home on November 29th at 6:34am after just one hour of labor. Delivered by our amazing midwives Crystal, Marivic and Jacki. Also attending the birth, all the way from Oklahoma was Georgia’s mom!  Zion weighed in at exactly 8 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes  (surprise) and he is an angel!


Thanksgiving from John Lester

13 11 2012

Last week Baby John Lester along with his whole family blessed the Abundant staff with a Thanksgiving meal. It was their way to thank us and God for the successful glaucoma operation.

Arce Family – Lots of boys!! The last two were born at Abundant.

As you can see in the pictures, the road to healing will be a long one with many follow-up check-ups in Manila and possibly another procedure. As compared to the last picture I posted of John Lester his eye looks much bigger – but that was because from the time that was taken until he could actually have the procedure his eye grew so much that he couldn’t even close his eyelid around it anymore.

Ana Pullis who has been accompanying Anita and John Lester to all of their trips to Manila! She is a Godsend!

The operation improved his quality of life so much that he actually smiles and laughs now!! Before he would only sleep and cry because of the pain. The operation also saved his other eye which would have lost it’s sight as well if the operation hadn’t been done. I keep praying for a complete healing for John Lester but for now he is doing really well and enjoying life.

The Trials of Baby John Lester

12 10 2012

Baby John Lester and his mother Anita before their first trip to Manila.

John Lester is the third child and third boy born into the Arce Family. He was delivered at our clinic in the middle of February 2012 and when he was born we noticed that his left eye was quite swollen. We referred him to a pediatrician and they diagnosed him with an infection and gave some medicine. We didn’t see him again until a few months later when his mother attended one of our “Well-Baby” seminars. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him! His eyeball was so enlarged and the socket was so swollen.  His mother said that he only cries and sleeps and seems to be in so much pain. We asked the mother if she had been to a doctor again and she told us that she had, but they were referred to Manila to see a specialist and they couldn’t afford to go. My heart just about broke to see this sweet little boy in so much pain.

John Lester getting some relief while sleeping.


We contacted one of our sponsors, Samaritan’s Purse Canada to see if there was some way they could assist us in getting baby John Lester medical help. They said yes! In July, with the help of SP Canada we took John Lester and his mother to Manila for an initial check-up and diagnosis. It took a whole week but God divinely intervened and set up a meeting with one of the top ophthalmologists in the country. When the doctor saw John Lester and learned of his family’s financial condition, his heart was also moved. He diagnosed him with congenital glaucoma and said that he needed immediate surgery in order to save his eye. He agreed to waive his professional fee and set up a sponsorship with his own foundation (Opthalmological Foundation of the Philippines) for John Lester to receive a reduced rate for all procedures.

Since August we have been trying to get John Lester healthy enough to undergo surgery – he was suffering from pneumonia. Finally this last week, baby John Lester had his glaucoma surgery and everything went well. He and his mother are still in Manila with one of our team undergoing follow-ups until the doctor clears him to come home to Tabuk.

John Lester’s family is so thankful for the help given by SP Canada. Without their sponsorship John Lester would still be in excruciating pain and would have eventually lost use of both eyes.

Please pray with us that John Lester will continue to heal and that his other eye won’t be affected by the glaucoma.

(I will put up pictures of John Lester post operation when they arrive home from Manila next week)

Adventures from Bugnay – You won’t believe these girls!!

2 09 2012

By Crystal Meeks and Evelyn Pullis (Head Midwives at our Bugnay Clinic)

Our remote sister clinic in the village of Bugnay.


Brenda and I had planned this trip to Tabuk for eight days.  We had received cell phone signal during hikes to Locoong and Proper.  During that time we had learned that Samaritan’s Purse Canada was going to help sponsor the surgery for a baby in Bugnay born with a congenital heart defect and we needed to go to Tabuk ASAP to get the papers for them to have a followup check and confirm exactly how much the surgery would be.  The change of plans caused me to leave exactly ten days from when we had originally planned.  We still felt well prepared, not so rushed, no big deal.  We had planned to drive the Pajero and get lots of supplies from Tuguegorao.  Even though it was cloudy I packed and ate breakfast feeling confident that we would make this trip easily.  I threw our stuff in the car, cranked it, yelled we were leaving and walked out the door.  Hmm what was that feeling?  Where did it come from?  It was drizzling rain should I not drive?   I walked back in the house down the stairs where Blyn and her husband Ramon were eating breakfast.  I remember her exclaiming, “Wow, nice shoes!”  I was wearing the sparkly Bridesmaid sandals from Elizabeth’s wedding.  I made eye contact with her.  “We are going.”  Yeah you said that already she laughed.  “We are taking the Pajero.”  Yeah I know she rolled her eyes at me.  Why was I being weird?  Blyn seemed fine so off we went.  Halfway to Tabuk sliding through the mud after the drizzle turned to a torrential downpour, the road was washed out up ahead.  Too far to turn back we did what we always do… keep driving and find out if it’s our time to die or not? I confess my prayers during those times have more to with words my granny taught me than the expected, “Jesus keep us safe.”  I was sure the unexpected road conditions were what caused me to second guess driving to Tabuk.  However later that night we got a letter from Bugnay… I gasped!  I wasn’t supposed to stay because the roads were dangerous I was supposed to stay because my name had already been repetitively spoken that morning in Bugnay by the village midwife.  Thankfully I left behind a highly skilled, faith filled midwife that knew exactly what to do.  I’ll let her finish this story…

Hi, I’m Blyn and I work at the clinic with Crystal.  It’s Sunday Morning, after I ate breakfast with my husband I went to take a shower and get ready for church.  I was about to change my clothes after finishing my shower when I heard a voice in the birth room.  I thought we had a patient in labor but when I opened the window, I saw the village midwife, Sabel.  She was saying, “I suctioned it.”  Confused I asked if we had a labor and Sabel said, “Come here, Blyn and check this baby.  He got choked!”  I did not bother to change my clothes and entered the room to check the baby.  I looked at the baby he seemed blue.  I checked the heart rate and breathing rate.  They were normal but it seemed the baby was having a hard time breathing.  Our oxygen tank was leaking somehow and we couldn’t get it to work properly so I couldn’t administer free flow to the baby to see if that would help.  I suggested that they take the baby to Bontoc Hospital for a checkup.  While they were waiting for the mom of the baby to come over from the village my husband and I continued trying to repair the oxygen tank.  I got the ambu bag to give to Sabel just in case they needed it during the trip to the hospital.  I was in the living room when I saw out the window that the baby’s mother had arrived from Bugnay.  Good everything was fine and a jeepney was here to take them.  Then suddenly Karen (one of my companion midwives at the clinic) and Sabel entered the living room and said that they weren’t going to take the baby to the hospital anymore.  I asked why?  They both said at the same time that the baby was DEAD!  Of course my first reaction was Really? Oh no!  But when Sabel said they were starting to carry him back to Bugnay I said no bring him to me maybe I can try resuscitation.  We started full resuscitation with chest compressions and using the ambubag there in the living room on our desk. So many people were in the room watching me.  Some were yelling at me to “STOP! Alangan ijoy ken oon ju aat ja mataku!” which means you better stop you can’t bring the baby back to life.  I ignored their demands and continued resuscitation.  After many minutes, I’m not sure how long but it seemed a long time the baby’s heartbeat and breathing came back.  Once the heartbeat was stable we went to transport and I finally changed my clothes so I could go to the hospital with them in case it needed resuscitation again.  Luckily the baby was staying stable.  Halfway to the hospital the baby started looking around and even smiling at us.  I was thinking back to how hard we had prayed during the resuscitation for the baby to survive because the parents’ first baby had died.  Then once we were about thirty minutes from Bontoc I noticed the baby was beginning to turn blue again all of a sudden.  We ended up having to give resuscitation again.  At this point the mother and grandmother seemed relaxed and I was really frustrated that I felt like they didn’t care about the baby.  So I yelled at the mother that she should pray!  Once we reached the hospital I threw up a lot and felt so dizzy.  I thought I was finally getting over my morning sickness but it seemed this emergency had given it back again. Sabel and Crystal had done prenatals on this patient during her first pregnancy.  They had urged her to go to Bontoc repetitively because she had extremely high blood pressure.  She never heeded their advice.  Once in labor, Sabel made her go to the hospital.  The baby’s head was born in the jeepney just a ways down the road past where on clinic is now.  It wasn’t until later the baby’s body was born dead.  We suspect shoulder dystocia and the village midwife just hadn’t been trained in that type of emergency.  When her blood pressure spiked with this pregnancy it seemed one of us was at her house almost everyday watching her blood pressure rise and trying new tactics to persuade her to go to the hospital.  Miraculously she ended up delivering this baby at the hospital.  Then five days after being born it was brought to us having apparently “choked on vitamins.”  We later discovered that the baby was actually hypoglycemic (low sugar) because the mother had not been feeding him enough.

The baby is still very small most likely because the high blood pressure was depriving him from essential nutrients he needed but he’s alive and for that we thank God.

A precious baby boy who almost didn’t make it!