The vast majority of orthopedic surgery at Tenwek is related to trauma: motorcycles, Masai swords, pangas (machetes) and similar instruments of pain and suffering. Often, the patients that present with these injuries are very poor and unable to pay their hospital bills. Since coming to Tenwek, Heather and I have been praying for ideas to provide a means to subsidize the care for the poor and help the hospital financially. Joint replacement surgery has been at the top of the list, although this seemed like an incredibly far off possibility in rural Kenya. As in the US, many people suffer from knee and hip arthritis here. But joint replacements, while common in the US, are performed by only a handful of surgeons in Kenya, typically only in big cities like Nairobi, and fetch a high price.
Knee and hip replacements have been done at Tenwek by visiting joint replacement surgeons in the past, with components donated from the United States, thankfully, most recently just last month. However, with the new stringent rules set forth by the US Department of Justice for implant companies and surgeons, donated implants and supplies are becoming more and more difficult of obtain. So, since coming to Kenya, I have been looking for a local supply of implants for purchase (both trauma and joint replacement), in order to reduce our dependence on donated supplies from the US. Sovereignly, while at the Kenya Orthopedic Society Meeting in Eldoret last March, I was introduced to Rose, a Kenyan lady representing DePuy (a division of Johnson and Johnson), who distributes orthopedic implants in Kenya.
In short, last Monday, we performed the first total knee replacement at Tenwek with components obtained locally in Kenya! Our first patient, “John,” is a very enthusiastic and animated former English teacher who, aside from a little pain with urinating from a Foley attempt gone bad, did very well. I was thankful to have Keith Braun (a visiting orthopod from Mesa, AZ) here to share the moment, and he, at one point, said “Ernie Steury (the first physician at Tenwek) could never have imagined this.” And, next Monday, we have our first total HIP replacement scheduled with local components! We are amazed at the speed at which God has answered our prayers for the start of an ongoing total joint replacement program here at Tenwek as a mean to help subsidize care for the poor! And selfishly, I am excited because joint replacement surgery is what turned me on to orthopedics in the first place.
Please pray that God would continue to bless the orthopedic department at Tenwek, and that the joint replacement program would assist with the overall care of the poor, and viability of the hospital. Pray that our patients would have good outcomes and that God would be glorified through this new work, and that many would hear the good news as a result. Thank you for all your support!
Psalm 113:5-8 Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.
Psalm 140:12 I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.