A New Bone Saw

Heidi does her fair share of amputations at BMC in Nalerigu, Ghana. Sometimes they are due to traumas but sadly, many of the amputations are due to poor wound management. A snake bite treated unsuccessfully with traditional medicines. A wound not cleaned properly that festers and becomes gangrene.

A few months ago, she had a series of amputations to do in a short period of time and became aware that the theatre only had one manual bone saw and it couldn’t be sterilized fast enough to do the all the amputations necessary. She ended up doing all the cases but had to spread them out across several days so that the tool would be available.

A medical volunteer who was coming out heard about that issue and generously provided a high-powered, battery-operated bone saw kit for Heidi’s work. We’re so grateful that God brings people along at just the right time who bless us with their generosity.

The Mamprusi category of 'medicine' (tiim) incorporates substances which are prophylactic or curative as well as poisonous, and substances which operate both mechanically and metaphysically.

Susan Drucker-Brown (1993)

Hernia Repair for Friend

Recently, a young mom from Nalerigu brought her 18 month-old son for me to evaluate for surgery to fix his inguinal hernia. The child had been admitted several times with problems related to the hernia, so the mother was anxious for it to be fixed. I scheduled the child for surgery. As I talked with the mother, she seemed very familiar to me. I finally realized that she is the wife of one our friends in town, the painter “Boyz2Men.” Her father-in-law is a town elder and also one of our friends. I had even taken a photo with her and her (then) newborn baby boy in November 2014 after we had first arrived in Nalerigu.

The mother and child in 2014I performed the hernia repair on the boy, but had a small complication which required him to remain hospitalized for an extra week. While he was hospitalized, William went to the hospital to read Bible stories to my patient’s mom and the mothers of patients nearby on the ward. She is a Christian and was helping William to clarify the stories in Mampruli for the other ladies listening in.

About a week after I discharged the child home, William and I went to their family house to greet them and check on the child. I praise God for the child’s full recovery. I also am thankful for another connection to people and families in Nalerigu.

Patient Story

A young woman was admitted to BMC, Nalerigu, Ghana with a very large, necrotic tumor (consistent with a cancer) just above her right knee. It was painful. It was crawling with maggots. She had already undergone several surgeries, but the tumor returned each time. A large lymph node was present in the groin (signifying metastasis). After considering alternatives, she requested an amputation as palliation to take away her pain. We successfully completed the amputation and her pain was much improved. I kept her in the hospital until about post-op day 10 to ensure that the stump closure was healing well. We found crutches for her and she was a pro in no time. The day before she was discharged, she had “walked” into town on her own.

She is a Mamprusi woman who amazingly understood when I spoke in Mampruli. During her time in the hospital I had several opportunities to talk with her about Jesus and to encourage her. Also, she has a daughter with the same Mampruli name as KJ – “God’s gift” or “grace.” To God be the glory for his amazing gift and the hope that we have because of his grace.

A Reminder

Operating with limited resources often presents many challenges, especially when patients have significant underlying disease.

About a month ago, a middle-aged man with chronic liver disease presented to the hospital with a strangulated inguinal hernia (meaning that a small loop of intestines had become trapped in his hernia and the tissue had begun to die). I took him to surgery to fix the problem at hand, but his body lacked the reserve to be able to overcome the illness and he passed away a week later.

In the first few days after surgery, he had been doing ok. I asked the chaplains to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the patient. After a long conversation, the patient told the chaplains that he wanted to accept the gift of grace that Jesus offers.

My heart aches when a patient dies, but I praise the Lord for his faithfulness. All my patients will die eventually. This patient reminded me that the reason we are here is to introduce people to the Savior.

Case in Point

Back in December, I helped Dr. Coppola do an operation on a 10 yr old boy with an appendiceal abscess that extended up posterior to his colon. In the process of draining the abscess and removing his appendix, we noticed a small hole in his duodenum (the first portion of the small intestines after the stomach). This part of the intestines is not easily mended. I did my best to patch the hole and left a drain in place. On the second day after surgery, we noticed bile leaking from the drain. This was an indication that a hole remained in the duodenum. We needed to divert as much as possible from flowing by the hole in the intestines, to allow the hole to heal with time. We also needed to give the patient an alternate route for nutrition. We took him back to the operating room and placed two tubes: one in the stomach to decompress the stomach of fluids and air, while the second tube was placed in the small intestines as a feeding tube. We kept him in the hospital for about a month as we treated with antibiotics and increased his tube feeds up to optimal level for nutrition. He was finally ready to be discharged, but the family had to continue tube feeds at home. I visited him and his family several times in their home. He progressed well and was finally able to start eating. He quickly began gaining his weight and strength back. He was so happy the day I removed his tubes. Read More