Real Life. Real Difference.
'WE -SODDO- TREAT… JESUS HEALS’
My wife and I had the privilege of spending a month in a mission hospital compound and adjacent orphanage in southwestern Ethiopia. My primary assignments were to cover general surgery cases while training African surgical residents. This was very rewarding since my career had been in surgical resident training. However, it was also challenging, particularly since I had limited prior experience with the extended clinical fields.
I had many memorable moments on this trip, one of which was when the orphanage’s assistant director brought a 15-day-old newborn to the pediatric unit. The infant could not keep down any food he consumed and was not able to produce healthy stool output. Upon consultation with the general surgery resident, the assistant director was told that the baby needed a CT scan (currently unavailable in the region) and was probably too sick for an exploratory procedure. In tears, concerned about the survival of the infant, she came to our house for consultation.
The baby’s problem seemed to me like hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (enlarged muscle at the outlet of the stomach) – a not-uncommon pediatric congenital and surgical condition. My suspicion was confirmed when the general surgery chief resident and I examined the child the next day. He was declining so fast that we arranged for him to go directly to the OR suite to facilitate IV line and urinary catheter placement with surgery scheduled for the next day.
Unfortunately, we learned that the infant’s hemoglobin was 5.0 which required transfusion (60 cc) for surgical safety and this required delaying the surgery. Further complicating the situation, the child needed O+ blood which was not available at the hospital. My wife, coming to the rescue, was willing to donate her O+ blood. Tragically, the hospital and all of the neighboring regions were out of the necessary blood bag containers to accept her donated blood. Surgery plans were at a standstill.