Heather Hansen

Equating Life with Life

“It’s very important to me to equate life with life.” When Dr Owen Montgomery said this in our recent interview, it stuck with me. What does that mean? Do I do that? Do I equate life with life? For the answer to the first question, we need to look no further than Dr Montgomery and his team at Drexel University College of Medicine. They focus on serving underserved women here in the U.S. and beyond. Their work shows us that all lives matter.

Maternal mortality is a measure of the risk of death once a woman becomes pregnant. Being pregnant and giving birth is not for the faint of heart, and there are risks to a mother’s life and health inherent in the process.

Those risks are different depending on where you give birth. Here in the US, we have the highest maternal death rate among developed countries. This is a problem we’re going to explore in later interviews on H2Spark, because the reasons are multifold and the solution not an easy one. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s an easier problem to address. Their maternal mortality rate is due to things like hemorrhage, which we in the U.S. have learned to control. So Dr. Montgomery and his team are working with health care providers in Africa to help them reduce the maternal mortality rate there.

Why should I worry about women in Africa? If you are someone like Dr. Montgomery, it comes naturally. The rest of us may be inherently a little more selfish.

I don’t even like to share my Go Raw Choco Chunk Crisps with my fiancee and his son. From a selfish perspective, the women in Africa seem awfully far away and there’s so much here in the U.S–in my own house–to keep me up at night. But Dr. Montgomery is right to equate life with life, and we can choose to do so for selfish reasons. The things that kill women in Africa can also kill women here. We’ve seen with the recent Ebola and Zika viruses that diseases have no walls. Zika is believed to have started in Uganda, and yet in the past few months women here in the U.S were being warned not to travel to Miami for fear of the virus.

The world is smaller than we think, and when it comes to health we need to start thinking globally to improve outcomes locally. The health of the whole depends on its parts.

So Dr. Montgomery and his team teach health care providers in sub-Saharan Africa how to perform Cesarean sections with a tool they have developed. It’s the only high fidelity c-section simulator in the world and they’ve named her C-celia. This is a way for the practitioners to practice on a simulator that looks, feels and acts like a human being without the risk of making a mistake on a human being. In medicine it’s often hard to remember that it takes practice to make perfect. No one wants a doctor practicing on them. C-celia allows for more practice.

They’ve also developed a real time high speed video link between Africa and Drexel University in Philadelphia. Now, when the students in Philadelphia are learning how to treat pregnant women and deliver babies, the students in Africa are learning as well.

Equating life with life. Now that I’ve seen first hand it means, it’s time for me to put it into practice. I’m grateful to have Dr Montgomery showing the way.

Now we want to know what you think. Do you want to hear more about C-celia, and maybe see how she works? Are you interested in the issues of maternal mortality, especially here in the U.S? We want to address issues that matter to you–but we can’t unless you tell us!

Please join our community and comment. We will respond!

Heather Hansen

Subscribe to Heather’s newsletter, connect with her on social media or purchase one of her books.