Our newest mission to Nigeria brought with it challenges a mini failure that turned to success and an ending number of children to be treated in a team that was up to every task.
We begin with if our Fr. Chux, chaplain of Calvary Hospital in Bronx, NY and a native of Nigeria with whom we joined forces. He and Sr. Dolores go to Nigeria each year usually with a doctor and some nurses. When he found out that he might have a whole team of doctors he was overjoyed and plan carefully and beautifully for travel and lodging's. He also is really good at spreading the word that American doctors are available, because in the seven days we had to work, we saw over 2400 patients that we also had our surgical team, led by Dr. Karen Cartwright, who managed to do 19 surgeries and gather a list of 50 more for her next visit. The surgery saga deserves a little explanation... as this is where potential failure became success.
The team brought its own sterilization equipment for their operations, but our electrical converter that would enable the 220 current to adapt to our 110 equipment burnout on day one! There were no Home Depot or Lowe's to run to, but the villagers who heard brought all kind of pots, thinking that hot water will be enough. Just when we thought we were stumped, the local Agricultural College offered their sterilization equipment during nighttime hours, when they did not need it. THIS WORKED! Sterilization packs have a small area that turns purple to let you know the process is complete. It was such a joy to see those lovely purple dots! The operations were back on! Kudos to Dr. Cartwright and Nurse Nayra who did lots of traveling back and forth from clinic to college honestly on sterilization duty. They are determined to have the "right stuff" for the next trip, so things will go smoothly and the remaining operations can be completed.
WE DID IT !!!
Top row of giggly guys proudly sport their hernia bandages while the brave 8 on the bottom pose for a good-bye shot the morning after their surgeries. Having the children stay overnight allows us to monitor them. Their mom or dad stays with them.
Sometimes very sad things happen...
Dr. Ashley examined a very ill child whose parents have no money for the transportation costs or medical consults that would help them search for answers. Dr. Ashley's small patient had lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes where the glands get very swollen and his child's cancer was very advanced. Treatment was no longer an option, even if we could have helped with all it would have cost. Dr. Ashley gently explained what the disease was and had to tell the Mom that her child will soon die. Then she prayed with Mom, held her hands and cried with her. Nothing is more difficult than having medical knowledge without the means to help a family. At these times, all we can do is offer comfort, kind words and our present.