Student delivers baby on pavement
Staff at a Uitenhage pharmacy thought they were in for another quiet evening on the job, when suddenly, a loud cry could be heard from outside the store – the sound of someone in agonising pain.
For a second everyone inside the Medicare pharmacy on Caledon Street froze when the entrance door swung open, revealing a man with an extremely worried expression on his face.
That man was Mark Rodgers, 35, a taxpayer educator at the South African Revenue Service who had, minutes earlier on Thursday night, visited the pharmacy with his fiancee Keshia Meintjies, 30.
“Luckily Keshia is a student nurse,” Rodgers said.
“Because she was needed outside.”
At the shop’s entrance outside, a heavily pregnant young woman had gone into labour and was about to give birth.
She needed immediate assistance as there was no time to wait for paramedics to arrive – and fortunately Meintjies was on hand to provide it.
Meintjies said: “We were there to collect medication for my three-year-old son Mark, who was not feeling well. Mark was outside to draw money from the ATM.”
Then chaos ensued.
“It was about 7.20pm when Mark ran in yelling that a pregnant woman outside the pharmacy needed help. It was just after we heard someone screaming in pain and all of us were just staring at each other, not knowing what was going on outside,” Meintjies, a fourth-year student nurse at Life College of Learning, said on Friday.
“When some of the employees [of the pharmacy] and I got outside, I realised the woman’s water broke and she was having contractions. I immediately started to panic because I did not know what to do! I’m not a midwife, you know.
“We tried to make the woman as comfortable as possible while we tried to get the ambulance to come.”
According to Meintjies, the woman identified herself as Wendy.
“She did tell us what her surname is, but I’ve now forgotten what it is because of all the chaos. All the time I was like ‘Oh my word, what am I going to do?’,” she said.
Then instinct kicked in.
“Being a student nurse, I knew what I had to do even though I am not a midwife. And the ambulance was not coming so we had to do something.”
Meintjies said with the assistance of some of the pharmacy’s staff, she had then started preparing Wendy for the delivery of her baby. About 10 minutes later a healthy baby boy entered the world.
“Everyone was so relieved,” Rodgers said.
“Everything went well and – since the ambulance had not arrived at the time – we called a Uitenhage security company, Topflight Security, who took Wendy to Provincial Hospital in Uitenhage. Keshia and I went along just to make sure that mother and son got to the hospital safely.”
Meintjies said she had thought she would be in trouble at her institution of learning for having helped deliver a baby.
“Because I’m not a midwife I’m not supposed to be doing that, but, since it was an emergency I guess that rule didn’t matter. Everyone was proud of me and I’m really just glad and happy that I could help.
“I’m really grateful that the mother and her little boy are doing fine,” she said.
Weekend Post visited the hospital, but chief executive Marilyn Klassen said Wendy had already been discharged early Friday morning. She did not want to reveal her full identity.
An employee of the pharmacy, who did not want to be named, said: “The lady who delivered the baby did an excellent job.
“She really went beyond her call of duty and did not hesitate to help. We helped her to calm the pregnant lady and all of us are just really happy everything went well,” she said.
Nelson Mandela Bay EMS district chief Brenhan Metune confirmed a call for an ambulancehad been made at 7.22pm, but said it had then been cancelled at 7.36pm.
Wendy had at that time already arrived at the hospital with her bundle of joy.