News: Navy physician answers call to help: delivers baby boy during civil action project
Story by Lance Cpl. Joseph Cabrera
By Joseph Cabrera
III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affiars
SULA, TARLAC PROVINCE, Philippines — After a long, hot day of treating patients at a medical and dental civil action project, U.S. Navy Lt. Christian Sutter, a physician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, Marine Aircraft Group 36 recalled the prior day's work where he delivered a healthy baby boy, Christian Tomas, Oct. 20, 2008.
He did not deliver the baby in a hospital or clinic; instead he delivered the child in the Tomas' home without high tech equipment, or even running water. He was definitely outside the ideal medical environment in which he normally practices medicine.
Sutter, a Mankato, Minn. native, was in the Sula barangay providing medical services for patients at a medical and dental civil action project in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during this year's Talon Vision exercise.
Gloria Tomas, in a nearby neighborhood, had sent for her midwife who then informed the medical personnel at the project that her patient was about to give birth, Sutter recalled.
That was when Sutter reacted. Having delivered numerous babies while working at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital, he was the physician with the most obstetrician experience. Sutter quickly grabbed his equipment, and then he and two hospital corpsmen ran to the house.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Christopher Visperas, the senior enlisted advisor with MWSS-171, a native of Baguio City, Philippines, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Megan Halisky, a hospital corpsman with MWSS-171 and a native of Apple Valley, Calif., were the corpsmen who assisted in the delivery process.
Family, friends, neighbors and children swarmed the house peering through windows and doorways in the small home to witness the birth, which would otherwise be a private affair for the family and medical care providers if they were in America.
"It was a great experience all around. The whole family was there," Sutter said. "It was really sort of a community event. It was an amazing experience."
According to Lt. Raul Cardenal, the medical plans officer with Marine Aircraft Group 36 and a Miami, Fla. native, the birthing went smoothly with no complications, and the parents chose to name the boy after the doctor who delivered him.
"The family asked what my name was, and they seemed to like it," Sutter said. "They named the boy Christian, and I'm very honored by that."
For Sutter, the feeling of being able to take part in bringing life into the world was one of the things that drove him into the medical field.
Early in life, Sutter heard the calling to help people, and he answered by focusing on family practice in medical school.
"He really goes out of his way to get the most for his patients, and I think it just goes to show his character," said Lt. Jason Rice, the group surgeon with Marine Wing Support Group 17 attached to MAG-36. "He is not just out there going through the motions. He really cares for his patients."
Because of the broad range of medical aspects family practice encompasses, it is often seen as a difficult practice to excel in due to the need to keep up with changing medicines and procedures, according to Rice a Corning, N.Y. native.
"He [Sutter] is definitely not the type to sit back and just coast through life. He really goes out of his way to stay on top of things, and that's hard because medicine is always changing," Rice said.
Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise are annual bilateral training exercises conducted between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military, which enhance military interoperability and improve communities through humanitarian assistance and civil action projects. The exercises are currently taking place from Oct. 15-27.
This work, Navy physician answers call to help: delivers baby boy during civil action project, by LCpl Joseph Cabrera, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.