Now at home, I was able to combine all of the animal photos from our safari in one post.
It has been a great mission trip. Now we are on our way home and we are sitting in the Nairobi airport. We were fortunate to work with great staff in the OR, clinic and hospital ward. These folks at the Beit Cure Hospital in Lusaka dedicate their lives to treating poor children with congenital deformities or disabilities year round. They are good at what they do, and they are so pleasant and kind to work with. We will miss them and look forward to returning in the future. We couldn’t get a photo of everyone, but here is a good bunch of us on our last day rounding in the hospital. In the lower photo you can see Madeleine (and her camera) and her friend Makupa. Makupa is Victor’s daughter. You might remember my stories of Victor last year. He has spent some time in Portland with his work with the Forestry Center, but lives in Lusaka and is an immense help in coordinating this mission trip. His daughter is thinking of becoming a doctor and wished to join us one day to watch surgery.
Last year on this mission trip I met Susan, who never seemed to smile. She was thirteen at the time, the same age as my daughter Madeleine was then. She had endured a large cleft lip for thirteen years and it brought tears to my eyes to think of my own daughter having to endure this. Dr. Clawson and I were so pleased to be able to help her. The surgery was even more memorable, as Susan was our patient when the president (now former president) of Zambia joined us in the operating room. She came back this year on the same long bus ride so that we could see her for a follow up appointment. This time, she also got to meet my daughter who joined us for the mission trip. It was a special moment for all of us! Now she smiles nonstop.
We’ll have more patient stories to tell, but can’t wait to share a few safari photos. We went out last night for a four hour ride and then again early this AM, hoping to see various animals some of whom are nocturnal. Last night we did see five female lions out hunting, but my camera battery had died already and Madeleine’s wasn’t working well in the dark…so we’ll just hope you believe our tale and the photo we took of the lioness’ tracks this morning. We returned to a nice dinner last night and went to bed very tired. We did have one small creature visit us in our room–a frog who was on the inside of my mosquito netting! I was able to get him out of my bed area and under a basket for the night (Madeleine reminded me that there are poisonous frogs so I shouldn’t pick him up) and get to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up in a start as he landed on my face. Last night at dinner, which is served in an open area, a large beetle landed on our table, just missing Madeleine’s plate! She shrieked, understandably, but was able to return to her food like the flexible traveler she is becoming while in Africa.
Our room has shutters and there aren’t windows but instead there are very sturdy screens. This way, we went to sleep listening to a symphony of crickets and in the morning the birds serenade us. There are over 400 bird species in this park!
We hope you enjoy a sampling of what we’ve seen so far…
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Kennedy arrived during the week, whereas most patients come for Screening Clinic on Sunday. We took a quick break from surgery on Tuesday to take a peek at him and due to a cancellation on our schedule, we were able to operate on the same day! He is such a darling boy and you’ll notice on his his post op photos that his hands are bandaged. Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with them. We just like to protect the IV from curious little fingers that sometimes pull it out. As difficult as they are to start in these little people, we do our best to keep the IVs in place until the babies are eating and drinking well–usually in 24-48 hours post op.
It is Thursday night and I am still not able to access wifi since my last post. I hope this will go out sometime soon. Although the wifi connection is not good here, everything else is going well. We have had several busy days in the OR and have four more cases tomorrow to finish out our surgical mission trip. Although each of the children we see is special, a few stand out and so I’ll share a couple of stories.
Last year we met Emmanuel and his mom. Emmanuel was one year old when we first met him last year. He has a cleft lip and palate. He was quite sick last year with a fever and anemia and was not strong enough to undergo surgery. Unfortunately, this was the second time his mother had brought him for surgery and we were so sad to have to postpone his procedure yet again. That scenario made this years successful repair of Emmanuel’s cleft lip even sweeter! He returned to clinic on Sunday much healthier and stronger than he had been last year. And, now he finally has a new smile to take home. Mom was very pleased and will bring him back next year for his cleft palate repair. His post op photo is a bit messy with some dried blood under his left nostril, but you can see the cleft is gone and his lip and nose are going to be just fine once he has healed.
Monday was our first full day in the OR. We started the day as we started screening clinic yesterday, with Hope. Really. Our first patient each day was Hope. She is a darling 4 month old girl with a right sided complete cleft lip with a corresponding severe nasal deformity. See her pre and post op photos below (taken by Madeleine). Of course, she is a bit swollen post op and has a small piece of packing in her right nostril, but I think you’ll agree that Hope is a beautiful baby with a beautiful new smile. That gives us hope. We are so happy to be part of this wonderful transition to better speech, swallowing, and communication as well as to a brighter, more hopeful future for Hope.
We saw several other new clinic patients today and so have 22 operations scheduled for the week already. The staff here at Beit Cure Hospital are fantastic–both skilled and caring. We feel blessed to work in such a great facility.
We had a great day in Screening clinic today. We saw 30+ kids and have 19 on the schedule so far. Some had traveled as far as 14 hours by bus or car. One man brought three children who were sent by World Vision, an organization near and dear to my heart. Several were positive for malaria on screening and will be treated for a few days and have surgery later in the week. One little girl is blind, has a cleft lip and palate and is not able to speak. My grandmothers oft quoted words “There but for the grace of God go I” came to mind as I examined this child and looked at the loving way her mother held her.
We also saw a 16 year old boy who had a land mine explode in his face several years ago. His injuries are devastating. We are unable to help him, but I hope to find someone who can. He would need extensive surgery, including a fibula free flap most likely to reconstruct his mandible and would probably have to be brought to the US or Europe. Anyone with ideas, connections or a chunk of money to fund this, please contact me. I also wonder if World Vision might be able to coordinate something for him as well.
We ended the day with an Ethiopian meal with Mary at our hotel with traditional injera, lamb, vegetables and a special coffee ceremony at sunset. The coffee was delicious and is probably the reason I’m still awake. Hoping to have better wifi access tomorrow to share photos.
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We are settled in our hotel in Lusaka. What a relief to be greeted by friendly faces we remembered from last year. First of all, we saw Victor who picked us up from the airport. Ever the optimist, he somehow squeezed five of us into a sedan as well as six large suitcases filled with our medical instruments, OR supplies and clothing as well as all of our carryon luggage. Fortunately, it was late at night and the roads were empty so the trip was only about forty minutes In duration Next we saw Mary, the owner of our hotel and she and the others were up at 2:00AM settling us in with bottled water and hugs. After a brief time when Madeleine and I were locked in our room with a jammed lock, we transferred to another room and slept for four hours.
We spent a couple hours setting up the Operating Room or "theater" today. Madeleine looks like a natural in her scrubs (someone asked if she is a medical student…) and already has some great video from our travel day as well as photos from the hospital today. It was a joy to again get hugs from the nurses we worked with last year–Sister Irene, Sister Esther and Grace.
We are exhausted from about 30 hours of travel time. We are also grateful to so many who made this trip possible, especially my youngest who is sharing her mom and sister for the good of sweet little Zambian children. Also a big thank you to Jennifer the lovely airport transit, web master and prayer partner person who also loaned us equipment, to Sarah, Anne, Anna and also everyone at Lake Grove ENT for holding down the fort in my two offices , to Dr. Emily Hu for call coverage, to my house sitter and to Linda for taking care of Lily. A special Thank you to those who've donated to Dr, Clawson's foundation to provide medical supplies and money for supplies. And we are happy to know that we are on the prayer list at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church.
Tomorrow is our screening clinic and we are hoping that we will be able to help all those that come. Sleep is calling my name…good night!
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