Days 1-3: It’s Good to Be Back

My first three days here at Tenwek Mission Hospital have been phenomenal. Ever since we arrived, my family and I have been ensconced in the warmth and love of the missionary and Kenyan doctors we worked with last year. We arrived at Tenwek on June 27th.  That evening we were invited to dinner with friends and recuperated from the 4-hour drive from Nairobi. We began working the very next morning. At 7 a.m. on June 28th, I trekked up the hill to the orthopedic ward, while my father made his way to the ophthalmic ward. On the orthopedic ward, I met two missionary orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Dan Galat and Dr. Glen Rowe, as well as three assisting Kenyan doctors. As we carried out our rounds, I was amazed by the severity of the trauma. Cases ranged from horrendous open fractures due to motorcycle accidents, to bullet wounds, to a remarkably infected femoral nail. After reviewing the X-rays, the ortho team devised a plan of action regarding the necessary surgeries. We prayed over the patients and left to prepare for that day’s surgeries.

I was absolutely ecstatic to be back in the surgical theater. I had harbored so many vivid memories from the previous year’s experience and was really looking forward to expanding that incredible memory bank. During the first day of surgeries (June 28th), I was able to participate in three cases, with the extent of my participation increasing with each successive case. In the first case, I merely played an observational role. The patient had severely fractured her distal, medial femoral condyle, causing it to rotate entirely off position. Normally, repairing a knee fracture is a relatively straightforward surgery; however, this fracture was three months old and had healed completely out of position, creating an overabundance of callous bone. This totally incapacitated the patient and left the surgeons facing a very difficult case. During the two-hour procedure, the surgeons masterfully removed the calloused bone, repositioned the medial condyle, and screwed it into position. Needless to say, there was much relief and praise to God at the conclusion of the procedure. In the second case, I was able to play a more active role in the procedure and had the privilege of scrubbing-in! The patient was a police officer who had been shot in the leg, resulting in a shattered tibia. The bone was in no condition to insert an intramedullary nail. We instead used an external fixation device. This device allows the tibia to be aligned via external rods which are fastened to the bones using 4 pins that extend above the skin. Two of the pins are positioned above the fracture sight and two are positioned below. During this procedure, I aided in cleaning the wound site, passing instruments, and supporting the leg during the placement of the pins. Considering that I am only a sophomore in college, this was truly an amazing experience. The final case involved repairing a fracture located on the neck of the femur. I was able to scrub in again, this time retracting the wound site as the surgeon implanted a plate. The events of the following day, June 29th, were equally as incredible. I again participated in early morning rounds and assisted in surgeries that involved repairing severely fractured humorous bones and removing infected nails.

The marvelous experiences of the last few days have been enormously beneficial to me. I have been dreaming about becoming a doctor since before kindergarten and being able to witness what only fortunate third-year medical students get to see has been hugely motivational.  This will be particularly helpful as I toil through the Wheaton College pre-med program! Equally as influential have been the wonderful Christian doctors with whom I have been working. The manner in which they conduct themselves and treat the patients is truly God-honoring. They have demonstrated to me through their actions what true ministry is and have become great role models. I am very much looking forward to working with them next week.  Please pray that God will be with the surgeons as they operate, and that He will bless their efforts as they attempt to expand the Kingdom of God. Thank you.

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