For hundreds, perhaps thousands of women and their unborn babies, this simple shaft of wood represented the difference between life and death.
A wooden stethoscope used on infants at the Oasis Hospital around 1961.
It belonged to the staff at the Oasis Hospital in Al Ain, the first institution to offer modern medical care in the entire emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was set up by two American doctors, Pat and Marion Kennedy, at the invitation of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan when he was the Ruler's Representative in Al Ain.
Oasis Hospital opened its doors in November 1960 in a converted guesthouse provided by Sheikh Zayed.
Its services were desperately needed. At the time, infant mortality rates were 50 per cent. As many as one in three local women died in childbirth or later due to complications.
By contrast, infant mortality rates in America at the time were less than 3 per cent.
"Most of the -issues that were faced could easily be handled by modern medicine, even at that time," says Brooks Glett, the hospital's vice president of public and community -affairs, "but there wasn't any here."
In addition to trained doctors, the hospital also provided midwives and a private delivery room: "The very first rooms were made out of very simple materials, even palm branches," says Glett.
The simplicity of the operation, and even the most basic equipment, such as this foetal heart monitor, rapidly made an enormous difference.
Perhaps the hospital's most famous employee, Gertrude Dyck, a nurse from Canada, who became known as "Dr Latifa", Arabic for "mercy", is estimated to have been involved in the delivery of up to 90,000 babies during her 40 years in Al Ain. If local mothers had any apprehension about giving birth there, they were reassured at the highest level.
Among the first newborns were several members of the Al Nahyan family. As Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the first member of the Royal Family to be born at the Oasis, later told the Kennedys, "If you had not come, we would not be here."
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