By Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. CrispJanuary 24, 2011
KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Air Force Capt. Jennifer Buckingham, a Coalition physician assistant in northern Kandahar Province's Khakrez District, tried to deliver an Afghan woman's baby for eight hours before it was determined the woman needed to be medically evacuated.
Buckingham, with the Female Treatment Team of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan, did not have the surgical capabilities at her location to do an emergency cesarean-section procedure: a procedure that had to happen in order to save woman and child.
So doctors at Kandahar Airfield, roughly 50 miles away, determined the best course of action was to fly the mother, along with her husband and mother-in-law, to the Coalition-forces-run Kandahar Airfield Role III Hospital.
Forty-five minutes after landing on the night of Jan. 20, 2011, a healthy 5-pound, 12-ounce baby boy was born to the delight of mother and Coalition medical practitioners alike.
"This was a unique emergency situation where we didn't have the ability to get the patient to the very capable facilities at the Kandahar Provincial Hospital (Mirwais)," said Maj. (Dr.) Gary Means, surgeon, Special Operations Task Force - South, who acted as liaison between Buckingham and the medical staff at the Kandahar Role III Hospital.
It would have been at least an additional 90 minutes to get to the Afghan-run Mirwais Hospital, Means said. That was time the Coalition medical team felt they didn't have in order to deliver a healthy child.
"It is very likely the baby would have died, and the mother quite possibly could have died from complications had they not been brought in when they were," Means said.
Instead, the mother gave birth to her first child.
He is also the only child ever born at the hospital, said Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Michael Cackovic, an OB/GYN and periontologist with the KAF Role III Hospital.
"It's the first time we've done this, and it is pretty amazing," he said.
Cackovic, deployed from Naval Medical Station San Diego, said the operating room was crowded as nurses, doctors and other medical facility servicemembers moved in to help and look on.
"After seeing all the traumas, seeing people who don't make it, and then to have this life spring out of nowhere it's a rewarding feeling," he said.
The complications that led to the MEDEVAC stemmed from the baby's position, one Cackovic called "sunny-side up," in which the baby's head is pointed up in the womb making it harder for the baby to come out. This, due to the small size of the women's pelvis, required the c-section, he said.
"This was a situation where we could offer help," he said. "It was high risk, but there was high reward."
The child needed some help when he was born in order to start breathing properly, but there were no major complications, Cackovic said.
The following day saw mother and child safely recovering, with a name for the child not yet given. The mother wanted to wait until she was back in Khakrez to name her son.
As for the father'
"He was very, very happy," Means said. "The father said he was pleased that we were able to take care of his family, and he was very satisfied with the treatment both here and in Khakrez."