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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Final days at Mazimbu

Our surgeries over the past few days have gone smoothly. Chris and Ashley, our surgical technologists, have enjoyed working with their Tanzanian counterparts. For all of our non-medical folks back home, a surgical technician is responsible for ensuring all necessary supplies—sutures, instruments, medications, etc—are ready for each procedure. A surgical technician also scrubs for the case so that they are sterile and can assist the surgeon. That can include clamping blood vessels, suction, cutting suture, retracting tissue and passing instruments. Peter and Faudha are the technicians at Mazimbu and, as they have worked with Chris and Ashley over the past week, their set up has begun to mirror our surgical setup.
Ashley with our anesthesiologist, Christine

Faidha and Peter

Chris with Faidha

This streamlining of prep seems to have resulted in a faster turn time in the theatre. It is Thursday, just before noon, and we have just begun our third case of the day. In past years it was not uncommon that the SECOND case of the day did not begin until afternoon.

Cindy and Pati were approached yesterday by a Maasai mother, Lukia, seeking help for her oldest son, Papaa, a 17-year-old-boy. Because our schedule has been full since last week, the initial reaction was one of sorrowful regret that we cannot help. But Lukia was persistent. As we talked with her, we learned that she is raising her six children alone since the death of her husband and that she came from a very far distance to see the team. Papaa has been suffering with an abdominal distension for six months and has been to hospitals and to doctors and none have found the cause. When we examined the records, we saw that Papaa has an enlarged spleen and liver. Lukia has sold cows to pay for this medical treatment over the past six months and has none left to sell.
From L to R, Cindy, Papaa, Lukia, Goa and Pati

In the evening, before dinner, we were able to relax at Rosemary’s duka again so the problem was brought before the team. It is a difficult problem because the next step is to go to Dar es Salaam, where there is advanced medical treatment available, but there is no way to know in advance the cost of those tests and treatment. After discussion, we decided to give Lukia the bus fare to Dar, money for meals and lodging for a few days, and enough additional to cover consultation with a specialist and for at least some more testing. Our hope is that they will receive a diagnoses and that Papaa’s condition will be treatable with medication.

However, we encountered another problem today when we met again with Lucia and Papaa. She has never been to Dar in her life and does not think she would be able to navigate the challenges of this city of 4 ½ million people. Eliah, who helped with translation, said it would be like “leading her to the lion and leaving her”.  This is when God stepped in again, in the form of Goa, a man who was treated by Doug four years ago. Goa had heard about the team and brought one of his family here this year, who had surgery a few days ago. Goa is evidently a distant relative of Lukia’s. It is not clear if he even knew her but just realized from her description of her village that he was related. But Goa stepped forward and offered to take her and Papaa to Dar. They have Kishumu’s phone number and will let him know the results, and Kishumu will then communicate with the team. We will be praying that the money is enough and that God will send him to a doctor that is able to treat his condition.

On another note, Cindy had a bit of a mishap while flossing one evening and lost a crown. She caught it in the sink and brought it with her to Mazimbu today. The dentist, Dr. Patric, had everything he needed to pop that crown right back in and Cindy reports that it is even better now than before!
Cindy with Dr. Patric

Replacing a crown

Our fundis have continued to be tapped on the shoulder for one repair after another. Today they were troubleshooting (successfully) computers that were not functioning. Thanks to Will and Lance!

Tomorrow will be our last day and it is a short one. Doug will only do outpatient surgeries because we will not be here for him to follow up on any inpatient surgeries. So we have set aside the morning for six of the team—Doug, Nancy, Will, Chris, Ashley and Zach—to climb Mt. Uluguru with Kishumu, Epsilon and Eliah. The rest of the team will sleep in and then enjoy a bit of shopping in Morogoro before meeting the climbers for lunch. After lunch, we will be packing up our supplies to donate to the hospital or to another dispensary, and then saying our farewells.
Pre-packing supplies

Kishumu has a few inches on Pati, despite the puffy hair!


  1. Wishing you all a safe journey home. Your news updates have been so renewing. Thank you~

  2. Wow,this message was jam packed In a good way. More prayers now and thanks to God for showing you his work. Love

  3. I am sure the wonderful Tanzanian people do not hear the news that your starting home the same way we hear it. The joy of thinking Chris and the team will be back with us is overshadowed only by the medical marvels you have wrought in an area so far from home. You have all met the unmet medical need and brought life, health and hope in a short grueling time frame. You have all given everything you could. Very Well done. You are all a great example of prayer in action. Travel safe.

  4. I'm sorry I have not written other notes, but I have followed every post and prayed every day! (Much of the time I was on a family vacation and only had my phone and dumb thumbs to use ;) I've shared all the posts and pics with Dr. John and we've enjoyed reminiscing and seeing familiar faces and places. What a joy to be able to hear the sounds and feel the air and watch the overloaded bikes whizzing by in our minds. Praise God for the bodies you've healed and the lives you've touched and the blessings you have received from the beautiful people of Tanzania!

  5. Thanks for all you do! Safe travels home!

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