Monday, March 5, 2018

Africa Mercy - Cool Rescue, Feeding Program: One Nurse's Story

More from Marilyn in Africa....  Sorry these postings are so late!  My friend, as you know, is in Africa serving as a nurse on the Africa Mercy. She emails me and I share her words with you. For those of you who know nothing of  Marilyn's story, the Africa Mercy is a hospital ship that travels the African coast with a crew of nurses and doctors. They come from all over to give of their time as volunteers. 


"Cool Rescue"

     I love the “coincidences” that sometimes happen around here, and I just heard a cool one.
      Background: Sometimes, if women have days of prolonged labor, the uterus and surrounding tissues get damaged from the pressure of the baby.  The tissue breaks down, creating fistulas (holes, tunnels) between the uterus and the bladder or the uterus and the rectum.  The baby always dies, and, if the woman doesn’t die also, she may end up incontinent of urine and/or feces.  This is a devastating condition.  Very often, the husband divorces her, her family puts her out of the house, and everyone pretty much shuns her because she smells bad and contaminates everything she touches.  The cure is surgery, but very often it is not available.  Some of these women suffer for decades as social outcasts.
     We planned an extensive women’s fistula repair program for this field service; the government assured us that there were many women needing our services here.  For whatever reason, though, we have had trouble finding them.  In fact, there was not enough work to keep the OB surgeons busy, and they went home before Christmas, intending to return in February.  They had done a number of surgeries before they left, but everyone seemed to be healing well, and it seemed safe for the surgeons to go home for the holidays.
      So, Christmas comes.  One of the fistula-repair women developed an abscess and needed remedial surgery.  The only surgeon left on the ship is Dr. Gary, and he specializes from the neck up.  OB is not his thing, and surgical specialties are not interchangeable. What to do?  Well…it “just so happened” that an anesthesiologist on board had his mother visiting for Christmas.  His mother was a recently retired OB doctor, but she’d never been to the ship before, and came only as a mother, not a surgeon.  But, since there was a need... mother and son did the necessary surgery together, and it all ended well.
      God sometimes works in “coincidental” ways, quietly, without fanfare, to protect and to provide what we need for the work we’re doing here.  This strikes me as a case in point.

  Marilyn Neville

"The Feeding Program"

     One of the surgeries that we perform on the ship is the repair of cleft lips and palates, usually on babies and children.  Sometimes the deformities are so profound that the babies can’t suck.  Without surgery, they lose weight and eventually die.  Often, by the time we find these babies, they are too malnourished and sickly to withstand surgery, and so we have an infant feeding program to fatten them up.

     Paul was such a child.  He was pretty much on death’s door when his mother brought him to us.  Check out the pictures attached to see the transformation.

     Cool program, huh?



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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.