The following article, Mom, Daughter, And Nurse Reunited 30 Years Later At Same Hospital, was first published on Flag And Cross.
A mom and daughter have been reunited with the nurse who saved their lives 30 years earlier – after they all ended up working at same hospital.
Catherine Conteh, then 18, and her unborn daughter were dying in hospital in Sierra Leone after a four-day labor because she couldn’t afford an $85 cesarean.
A nurse, Aly Hogarth-Hall, then in her 20s, was touring the hospital, visiting from a nearby charity and sourced the funds for the life-saving delivery just in time in 1993.
The two women – and Catherine’s new baby Regina – formed a close bond but lost touch until they ALL began working together 30 years later.
The trio – including Regina – all volunteer for healthcare charity Mercy Ships, on the hospital boat docked in Sierra Leone.
Aly, now 52, from New Zealand, is volunteering on board with Catherine in the dining room, while Regina is on nursing duties – and they met when they all began a stint of volunteering this month.
Aly said: “To see Catherine again, it’s very surreal really.
“It’s not something I ever expected until we made contact again, 18 months ago or so, so it was overwhelming.”
Catherine said: “To see her in person again, I couldn’t believe it.
“We just sobbed. We cried and cried.”
Catherine was giving birth in a maternity hospital in Freetown, when Aly visited as part of a tour from a hospital ship run by Mercy Ships nearby.
Mercy Ships operates hospital ships that deliver free surgeries and other healthcare services to those with little access to safe medical care.
Aly heard a woman’s cries of pain – and discovered Catherine.
Aly said: “The nurse told me that she would die, and the baby would die.”
Catherine needed a cesarean section to save their lives – but was unable to afford the £70 surgery – equivalent to six months’ salary in Sierra Leone.
Aly informed a colleague, a British anesthetist Dr. Keith Thomson who was part of her tour group, who paid for the surgery.
Catherine said: “I could literally feel my strength falling out of my whole body.
“Then the nurses came up to me and explained, ‘Look, these strangers who came in are going to pay for your cesarean section.'”
Both Catherine and her baby Regina survived and were healthy.
Aly came to visit Catherine in the hospital while she recovered – helping to dress her wound and teaching her how to breastfeed.
But they lost touch when Aly returned home to New Zealand and Regina gained asylum in Australia.
Catherine and Regina both became nurses, inspired by Aly – and Regina now has a child of her own.
They stayed in Perth, Australia, however Catherine regularly returns to Sierra Leone to serve her local community – even fundraising to found her own school.
Dr. Thomson kept in touch with the family – and tracked down Aly in 2021 via social media in a bid to reunite her with the pair.
He died from cancer in April this year – before Aly and Catherine could meet again face-to-face, this month,
They are all working aboard Global Mercy, which is currently back in Sierra Leone.
It’s Aly’s first stint back with the charity since she met Catherine, who is a first time volunteer.
Aly said: “This is Dr Thomson’s legacy in a way. This is a tribute to him in a lot of ways because his dream was for us to come together here.”
The pair will spend the next month volunteering while the ship’s crew carry out surgeries and train more than 200 Sierra Leonean healthcare professionals.
Their bond remains as strong as ever – and this time, they have no plans to lose touch ever again.
Catherine said: “I call her sister and she calls me sister because it takes a pure heart and someone with pure love.”
Aly added: “When I came back to New Zealand, it was a story I carried in my heart – I thought about her every time I told that story for the last 30 years.
“I know it was a significant time – realizing that you can make a real difference by doing something.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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