(Note: Pilipino Star Ngayon’s Bituin Ng Pag-Asa series looks back and celebrates viral stories of hope and inspiration this 2020.)
This nurse was hailed “hero in white” after going out of her way to ensure the safe delivery of a homeless mother’s baby.
Despite in a rush to report for work at a health maintenance organization, Mary Lorrainne Pingol, 29, didn’t hesitate to answer a call for help from officials of Brgy. Bangkal in Makati last August.
An emergency situation had occurred where a street dweller — later identified in news reports as Jeca Mae Rausa, 31— was giving birth on a sidewalk.
“Umaga ‘yun. Papasok ako ng trabaho. Bigla-biglang may mga tumawag sa akin, ‘yung mga grupo ng barangay officials. ‘Nurse, nurse!’ sabi nila. So nagtaka ako bakit nila ako tinawag,” Lorrainne told The STAR in an interview.
“Paglapit ko duon, nakita ko yung ale na nasa gilid ng kalsada. Nakahiga tapos mayroong baby nakalabas. Meron pala nanganak kaya ako tinawag.”
Upon seeing the woman’s condition, she asked officials to immediately bring her and the newborn to a hospital. But it turned out the placenta wasn’t fully expelled and the umbilical cord was still wrapped around the baby.
At the time, there was no medically trained person to manage the situation that could result to such complications as severe infection and life-threatening blood loss if mishandled.
“They had no medical personnel in the ambulance that was why they didn’t know what to do at that time. Parang mas sanay sila sa vehicular accidents kay sa mga scenarios na may nanganganak sa daan,” Lorrainne said.
She went into action using the barangay emergency response team’s gloves, scissors and clamp to make the delivery possible.
“Resources were limited,” Lorrainne recalled. “Tapos yung paligid was dirty. Katabi pa nga basurahan nanganak yung babae.”
She then tried to protect the newborn with what was available.
“Binalot ko na ang baby using the cloth that they gave me. Actually, I was looking for a bath towel, something that is warm or thick, but wala silang maibigay sa akin. Yun lang manipis na cotton cloth so yun lang pinambalot ko,” she said.
And when mother and baby were finally brought to a hospital, she resumed her walk to work.
Lorrainne was able to get updates about the mother’s condition after other homeless people in the same area thanked her.
“Meron kasing ibang homeless nakatira sa vicinity na yun and nagpasalamat sila. Tinanong ko, kumusta yung kaibigan nyo. Ang sabi OK naman daw yung mag-ina. Nakalabas na daw ng ospital at nilipat na daw sa health center. Upon hearing that, kung inallow ng doctor na ilabas sila, I think they’re fine.”
Lorrainne had never imagined that she would go viral after photos of her attending to the medical emergency were posted online.
“Hindi ko po inaasahan na lalabas ako sa balita at mag-va-viral ng ganito kasi unang-una, sabi ko, ‘wag niyo ako i-vi-video, ‘wag niyo ako pipicturan, sabi ko dun sa mga opisyal na nanduon sa scene. Kaso pinicturan pa rin yata ako.”
The viral post was then picked up by local and even international news organizations.
Though initially shocked and surprised for landing on the news, Lorrainne felt happy that somehow she gave people some inspiration during this time of pandemic.
“At first nagulat ako! At yun nga, nabasa ko mga comments ng tao, pati ang company ko, natutuwa, ang family ko, natutuwa, so natutuwa na rin ako kasi parang nakapagbigay ako ng inspiration sa mga tao.”
More importantly, the incident gave her the opportunity to handle a birth delivery again after many years.
“It has been many years ago since I handled a delivery in a hospital… I’m thankful nairaos ko yung mag-ina safely. Mataba ang puso ko at nagpapasalamat ako.”
Lorraine works as a company nurse but she takes pride in healthcare workers who are serving on the frontlines of the country’s fight against COVID-19.
“Actually, sa mga nasa frontlines talaga, sa hospitals, saludo po ako sa inyo kasi di ko magawa ang ginagawa ninyo, di ako makapagtrabaho sa ospital. Kaya saludo po ako sa inyong lahat,” she said.
According to Lorraine, she couldn’t practice her profession in a hospital setting for health reasons.
“When I was 23 years old, na-diagnose ako with chronic myeloid leukemia. Pero early stage, so siempre naagapan naman but habang buhay na ako iinom ng gamot at saka regular check-up with doctors and regular blood tests,” she shared.
“Because of that and because I’m a nurse, alam ko what is healthy, and what is not. May knowledge ako on how to prevent my medical condition from worsening.
“So, I chose not to work in a hospital because if I work in a hospital, I will be exposed to many kinds of infections. Lalo na ngayon pandemic, COVID, people with underlying conditions are more at risk of getting COVID. I cannot be working in a hospital.”
But despite her health condition and the threat of COVID-19, these didn’t stop her from responding to a call of duty and showing compassion to a stranger in need.
Her heroic act has since earned her several recognitions, including the Gawad Filipino Heroes Award and the Bayaning Nars Award from the Philippine Nurses Association.
“Hangga’t may kakayahan tayong tumulong sa ating kapwa, lalo na kapag life and death ‘yung pinag-uusapan, kapag survival na ‘yung pinag-uusapan, kung may kakayanan tayong makatulong, tumulong lang po tayo. Kasi ‘yung tulong na ibibigay natin sa kapwa natin could save their lives,” she said.
Watch the inspiring #BituinNgPagAsa video here.