Thursday, 16 June 2011

Autopsy Informally

This is the most amazing set of pictures I have ever seen. The woman did not labor on the blanket. She was carried there after her death, after hours of contractions and pushing. Her labor resulted not in the birth of her son but in the placental abruption that caused her to bleed to death. I think she died laying on her side, because there is slight darkening of the skin from pooling of blood. Soon after her death, her birth assistant moved her to the floor so that he could do the thing that was denied him at every successful birth. He could open her swollen abdomen and enter her pregnant uterus.

It is interesting that the autopsy occurred so informally, but the birth assistant had all the tools he needed. He was even able to cut through the mother's ribcage to expose her lungs and heart, and see that death was not due to an embolism. Perhaps he borrowed some kitchen shears, used to prepare the family's meat. Or perhaps he knew that the baby was breech and that his mother would ultimately die, and brought all the equipment he would need. Of course, he did not refer her to a hospital. There may not have been one available, or the care there would have killed the mother just as certainly as if she had not assistance.

In any case, the result was the tragic, beautiful death of a young woman and her unborn son, after several hours of blood, sweat, and tears. I will carry this story in my fantasies as long as God allows me to draw my own undeserved breath.

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