Friday, May 30, 2014

A Happy Ending

It’s a pleasure to work here in Kijabe, Kenya for so many reasons.  Like any physician working in a resource-challenged environment, those of us here at Kijabe Hospital see more than our fair share of patients with late-presenting and difficult to treat problems.  We grieve with the families amidst tragedies that in another context might not be so devastating or even much of a problem at all.  The upside is that we are much more acutely aware of the reality of our constant need for Christ’s Hand to lead us and keep us going.  There are certainly joyous times as well where we get to smile with families and celebrate God’s healing here in this life.  

Today, we celebrated with Hiram and his family as he was discharged from the hospital.  This 3-year-old boy was bitten in his groin a couple of weeks ago by a neighbor’s dog.  When he showed up at the hospital, he had multiple puncture wounds from the dog’s teeth, but he also had no pulses in his leg indicating that the bites had injured the main artery going into his leg.  As we prepared to take him to the operating room, we went to the lab to make sure there would be blood available.  Unfortunately, there was no blood compatible so we began calling around to folks at the nursing school and at Rift Valley Academy (RVA).  Jeff, a dorm parent at RVA, came down immediately to donate blood.  After a 5 hour operation in the middle of the night to reconstruct the main artery in the leg, Hiram was taken to the ward with pulses in his feet.  He has recovered steadily and began taking some steps over the last 2 days.  As I think about all the pieces that went into saving his leg :

1.     Well-trained anesthetists available in the middle of the night to put a 3 year old to sleep
2.     Folks like Jeff who make themselves routinely available to donate blood
3.     Friends and colleagues like Rich who came to the hospital at 4am when he wasn’t on call to bring his Doppler machine and to give me some good counsel
4.     Nurses who care all day and night for patients like Hiram
5.     Hiram’s family who were able to procure some anti-rabies medicine from the national hospital
6.     Resident physicians who are eager and willing to learn and help out with patients
7.     The Hand of God guiding all of us to bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven

I’m exceedingly grateful, humbled, and honored to be able to get to do what I do here in East Africa with friends, colleagues and fellow laborers in Christ.

Hiram's mother has given me permission to share his story and this photo with you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Overdue Update - from Erik

2014 has continued to be a busy time at the hospital.  We’re seeing healing and heartache, joy and frustration.  These are all part of life on this earth as we await our Savior’s return. We continue to pray for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven.  

Some of the highlights of these last few months are:

1.  Edmond & Francine Ntaganda and family!  Edmond is a trained general surgeon from Rwanda who joined the pediatric surgery fellowship program here in January.  He and his family are an answer to prayer as we prepared in 2013 to accept the next fellow trainee.  They have two children and will be in the program for 3 years, anticipating graduation at the end of 2016. Edmond will become the first Rwandan trained pediatric surgeon. 

2.  Rick Jackson.  In January, Rick was gracious enough to come out to Kijabe for 2 weeks to help me with some complicated anorectal malformation patients.  Among other more “routine” cases, we operated together on 5 girls with cloacal malformations (Amanda doesn’t like me to get too graphic on the blog, so if you’re interested in what this is, you can view details here or here).  His time here was invaluable for me and the trainees as he greatly helped to “build capacity” as we care for these complex patients.

3.  Ron & Suzanne Sutherland. Ron and Suzanne have been out to Kijabe a number of times and over the years have invested heavily in the care of patients, the training of residents, fellows and consultants (like me), and the procurement of the necessary equipment to do the endoscopic and microsurgical work of pediatric urology.  Approximately 40% of the pediatric surgical work at Kijabe is urologic.  Without Ron and other pediatric urologists like him (including Lynn Teague who will be visiting in the Fall), we would not be able to care for these kids. 

4.  Doug Barnhart.  Doug has been a Godsend, willing to come for a couple of weeks at a time to relieve and cover for me.  I was able to attend the Surgical Society of Kenya meeting at the end of April as Doug watched over the service.  He’s already scheduled his 4th visit to help cover me in December of this year.  Many thanks to Jill and his kids who graciously let him globe-trot!

5.  Mike & Rosemarie Matlak.  Over the last 4 years, Mike and Rosemarie have spent about 2 years at Kijabe to help sustain the training program and invest in the lives of the children and mothers in the hospital.  Mike is a pediatric surgeon and has been an invaluable colleague to me and the program as a whole.  Rosemarie’s gentle spirit and deep love for Christ are played out as she spends hours alongside Chaplain Mercy loving on and encouraging the mothers and their children.

We’ve been able to experience Christ’s healing – physical and spiritual – in the lives of our patients.  As always, we are privileged to be able to be the hands and feet of Christ and grateful for all He is doing.