A New Leg to Walk Proudly

Last spring, I met a 15 year old girl with a sweet smile and a large fungating tumor on her left foot. She had been to other doctors who did not offer any help or the cost was too high.  The tumor appeared to be cancerous, but she was otherwise strong and healthy.

Cancer care is a difficult thing to navigate here. I can offer amputation as a palliative measure, but any other adjuvant treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation are exceedingly expensive or impossible to obtain. Her family agreed to an operation, so I performed a below-knee amputation. She healed nicely without complication.

While she was recovering in the hospital, I encouraged her with truth about Jesus. I shared the gospel with her, the good news that Jesus came to help us to live life to the fullest both in this life and the next. He came so we can have certainty that our sins are forgiven, not by our own merit, but through Jesus’ sacrifice. The patient said she wanted to follow Jesus, but knew it would be difficult as her family is also very strongly Muslim.

About three months later, an orthopedic/prosthetics team came through Nalerigu. After discussing her case with the leader of the team, we agreed that it would be best for her to be fitted for and trained to use a prosthetic leg. With some funding help from a US-based non-profit called Friends of West Africa, she was able to receive a new leg. 

After she returned home with her new leg, she came to visit me. She looked great and was confident walking on the prosthetic. I was able to give her a microSD card with over 50 Bible stories in Dagbani, her native or heart language.

The pathology report confirmed my fears for cancer — melanoma. I don’t know how long it will take for the melanoma to take her life, but until that day comes, she is walking proudly and upright on two feet.

The Domes of Fabedougou

Just north of the town of Banfora, Burkina Faso and past the sugar cane fields there are some incredible rock formations. Geologists identify these cool domes as being Mesoproterozoic sandstone formed by millennia of erosion. As awesome as their geological history is, they are even more awesome to climb, hike and get lost in!

We visited the domes with Heidi’s parents in the late morning and the sun was brutal. After a couple hours of climbing and exploring (Ken even got lost!) we headed back to the hotel to cool off in the pool. Later in the afternoon, Ken and I returned as the sun was setting to get some better photos and drone footage.

It was epic.


Gun-Related Injuries in Mamprugu

Guns play an important part of life among the Mamprusi and many other ethnic groups in northern Ghana. All the major cultural festivals involve guns being fired. But it might be more accurate to say that guns play an even more important role in death.

When a Mamprusi man dies, three gunshots are fired to announce the news to the community. A deceased woman receives four shots. During funeral observances – especially for important elderly members of the community, many rounds of guns and mortars are fired.

These guns being fired are not your typical, modern manufactured weapons. They are all homemade guns that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They are always muzzle loaders and usually look like single barreled shotguns. Problems arise when those in the firing squads get a bit overzealous and pack too much gunpowder down the barrel.

Our hospital sees its fair share of gun-related injuries. The more of these cases have to do with these DIY weapons exploding in their owner’s hands instead of people being hit by gun shot. Gun owners come in with horrible wounds to their hands that usually require the amputation of fingers.

With Bugum Toobu (Fire Festival) approaching in a few days, we thought it appropriate for Heidi to discuss some of the gun traumas she has dealt with at BMC.

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Ken’s West Africa Trip Photos

Heidi’s dad is an avid hobbyist photographer. Here are some of his photos from their recent visit to Ghana & Burkina.

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Bye Bye, Nana & Pappy!

Vacay Time!

Last week was a great time of chillaxing in Burkina Faso!