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Cardiothoracic Tuesday and South Africa or Bust!

April 4, 2011

Prof Otsyula instructing his mentee

You may remember a 1980s rock song entitled “Manic Monday”. If last Monday was manic, Tuesday hit like a tornado. I had planned to do some small cases with the CT surgeons, finalize some preparations for my five-day trip to South Africa and hopefully catch up on some administrative tasks. But God had a different plan.

The first case started almost one hour late. Then it got complicated fast. At the critical portion of the operation, there was a significant hemorrhage from a major blood vessel (aorta). It took quite some time to obtain adequate exposure to definitively address the bleeding. It was so significant, that I scrubbed in with the professor and his colleague to help out. There were at least two distinct occasions after that when I remember praying for God to keep this patient alive while we worked hard to manage the situation.

Thankfully, we finally managed to get control and finish the operation. It required a lot of effort since the surgeons here don’t use magnifying surgical loupes or headlights which provide significantly improved vision and accuracy when sewing on vessels. To top it off, we didn’t have the right sutures to effectively sew on the aorta and pulmonary artery. The Prof said that was the worst case he had seen for this operation in 20 years. I can believe it. I thank God that  patient survived and for his guidance on our hands.

The rest of the day was much less eventful. I actually had the chance to “pay forward” what Dr. Matthews did for me the first week in Eldoret. There is a family here of a busy US surgeon that I was able to take around town and help them finding some shopping venues for a few hours. At the same time I was able to finish my preparations to head to South Africa.

Cardiothoracic day at MTRH

I am heading to South Africa to do two things–visit with some old friends Dick and Kirsten from our church in Ann Arbor who are know living in Johannesburg (Jo-burg) and to meet for the first time some fellow travelers to Togo Dave & Hilary. Both are physicians. Dave in particular is a CT surgeon looking like me to establish a cardiac surgery facility in a resource-poor area in Africa. Eldoret might be a good option.

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