When a teenage mother unexpectedly went into labour three months prematurely, she had no idea that a chain of events that started months before would make all the difference to the survival of her tiny baby…

“Towards the end of 2018, we at Netcare’s Gauteng South West regional office took the Jan Hofmeyer Community Services Centre under our wing as a CSI outreach project. Since then, staff members have made donations and volunteered their time to support the work of this non-profit organisation that does much good in the community,” says Sandile Mbele, Netcare’s regional director.

Jan Hofmeyer Community Services (JHCS) provides a childcare and feeding programme, as well as assistance for the elderly and destitute unemployed individuals of the Jan Hofmeyer, Vredepark and Vrededorp communities in Johannesburg.

Basic first aid workshop conducted

In addition to the Netcare regional office staff members donating their time and skills, they also facilitated a basic first aid workshop for JHCS staff and volunteers earlier this year. This was arranged with assistance from Netcare’s national trauma co-ordinator, Nicky Baltsoucos, and Netcare Garden City Hospital’s emergency department unit manager, Faiyaz Buys. The training itself was provided on a voluntary basis by Rochelle Foster, a part-time first aid instructor and former basic life support medic.

Monica Joubert, manager of the JHCS feeding programme, was one of the people who attended

“Years before I had done basic first aid training, and I was very eager to brush up on my skills when Netcare kindly offered us the training opportunity. Given that we are involved in providing services to many children and senior citizens, we never know when we might encounter a situation where someone needs first aid,” Monica says.

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Tiny life saved!

Little did Monica know at the time of the training, that just over a month later, her new skills would enable her to save a fragile young life.

“One afternoon, a woman who lives near our centre called and asked me whether I could assist her friend, who was six months pregnant and had suddenly started experiencing severe pain in her back and lower abdomen,” adds Joubert.

“We called for an ambulance and I went over to where they lived to see how I could assist.”

“We called for an ambulance and I went over to where they lived to see how I could assist. The young, first-time mother however gave birth to the premature baby before the ambulance arrived and was in complete shock, shivering and not knowing what to do.

“The tiny baby moved a little after he was born but then went limp, and I knew I had to do something to try to save his life. I checked his airway and performed CPR on him, just the way Rochelle had taught us to do CPR on infants. Thankfully, the baby boy started breathing on his own and I could see the colour coming back into his little face. I was so grateful to have received the training, and to have been in the right place at the right time to help save his life.”

Both mom and baby are doing well

Joubert says that she did not cut the umbilical cord or do anything outside of the training she had received, but tried to comfort the mother and baby as best she could. When the ambulance arrived, the mother and baby were taken to hospital, and are reportedly both doing well.

The mother has asked for her privacy to be respected and does not wish to be named in the media.

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