On our team's first clinical deployment to the remote Ngabe community of Rio Cana, an indigenous woman giving birth at home started to bleed heavily after the delivery. The local partera (midwife) sent a runner to our clinic location to ask for help.
We saw that urgent transport to a hospital would be needed if this new mom was going to survive, but the closest medical services were far away on the mainland. Getting to hospital is a 60 mile trip in a small open boat, crossing almost 30 miles of exposed open ocean swells, and 30 miles of reef-strewn mangrove mazes--and all at night.
For our patients in these distant locations, there is no phone service and nowhere to go when illness strikes. And in addition to these challenges, our volunteers also have no one they can hand these situations to if the responsibility seems overwhelming--this is the razor's edge of medicine, where volunteers from around the world continue to amaze me at their courage and determination on behalf of a single person in need. Admiral Halsey once said "There are no great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet."
On the razor's edge, what what you do?
What is one life worth?