Santa Clarita has many residents who donate their time and talents to worthy causes. But for sheer selfless giving, Valencia’s Maureen Wright is in a league of her own.
Wright, a labor and delivery nurse at UCLA in Santa Monica, has spent much of the past several years in Africa working with needy women and children.
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As part of Medical Missions Teams, Wright has traveled to third world countries like Kenya and Madagascar to set up free clinics and tend to the sick. Most of her work centered around providing urgent care for people with colds, pneumonia, tropical diseases, and broken bones. Many were poor children who had previously been treated by native medicine men but were not healing properly. “The mortality rates for mothers and newborns in that area (of the world) are just astounding,” said Wright in speaking of her decision to go.
Wright, 35, also spent time working for International Health Partners in Tanzania. After learning about the organization through her church, Wright originally joined IHP to try to help build a birthing center. But after reaching out to family and friends for donations, they have stepped up their goal and are now building the only children’s hospital in the country.
On her first overseas trip, on her first day, Wright met a woman named Irene who had already been in labor for three days, with her water broken for two. “She’d been pushing for about nine hours. I examined her, and I knew immediately that she wasn’t going to be able to push this baby out,” Wright said. The labor and delivery nurse quickly determined that Irene needed an immediate C-section, so Wright and her fellow volunteers pooled their money and sent her to the local hospital.
But when Irene was examined at the local hospital, the doctor there determined that her pelvis was adequate to give birth and insisted that Irene have her baby naturally. That decision almost cost Irene her life.
“My heart about sank, and I had the weight of the world on my shoulders that night,” Wright recalled. “I was so worried and praying so hard for her.”
But later that night, while in prayer, Wright learned that Irene had finally been admitted for the C-section, and that mother and baby were doing fine.
A few days later, Wright found out that the baby boy had been named “Maury” after Maureen and another mission doctor, Tammy.
Wright was honored, but mostly thankful that she had played a part in saving both lives.
Wright has been able to visit with Irene and Maury on subsequent trips to Africa, and she sends Irene a monthly check so the young mother can attend school and learn to be a seamstress.
After four overseas missions, Wright hopes to go again one day. But she believes that raising the level of education and changing cultural mores is the key to making real change.
About Medical Mission Teams
Medical Mission Teams is an organization dedicated to providing medical care to poor areas of the world. Currently they go regularly to Western Kenya and Madagascar, but are hoping to add Tanzania, Uganda and Peru to their mission itineraries. The organizers avoid dangerous countries and consider their work a great place for a first-time medical mission tripper.
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Source: Santa Clarita News