Donna Collins cried with the husband of a Samoan woman who was too ill with measles to grieve for the loss of her beautiful baby boy who died after birth.
The Whangārei nurse and midwife is witnessing first hand the toll measles is having on locals in the small Pacific island where an outbreak has so far claimed 53 lives and infected 3728 others.
The Samoan Government has taken the most drastic measure to date by shutting down its offices for two days in an effort to combat the spread of the deadly disease.
Collins is part of a seven-member New Zealand Red Cross team of nurses that left for Samoa last week and are working the emergency departments, operating theatres, intensive care units, paediatrics, and vaccinating in the community.
She is working in the maternity measles isolation rooms and is also helping midwives who are short-staffed in the delivery suite at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, at Motootua, in Apia.
Other Kiwi nurses are working in other departments in the hospital, or vaccinating in clinics and villages with health workers.
"The women I care for in the maternity measles isolation rooms are very sick indeed. ICU is full," Collins said.
"One of the pregnant women was so extremely ill that sadly her baby had passed away. I cared for her and augmented her labour and she gave birth to her beautiful baby boy— too premature to survive.
"Another victim of the measles epidemic. I cried with her husband, the woman was too ill at that stage to grieve. But she is improving and her vital signs that were off the charts are slowly returning to normal."
Collins helped deliver four babies on Thursday and Friday last week.
Whangārei nurse and midwife helping in Samoa
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She got orientated and had her Samoan nursing and midwifery registration before being asked to work in the maternity measles isolation rooms and in the delivery suite.
"There are lots of agencies here and everyone is working hard to support the overworked Samoan hospital staff who are incredibly dedicated and very appreciative of our presence."
She said it had been a big, hefty, and emotional first week treating the gravely ill women.
A measles outbreak was declared in Samoa on October 16 and the youngest are at the greatest risk, with 48 of the 53 deaths so far have been children under the age of 4.
All government services will be closed tomorrow and on Friday to allow public servants to assist with a mass vaccination campaign throughout the island.
So far, schools have been closed, children are banned from large public gatherings, and parents have been urged to bring their children to a doctor at the first signs of illness.