Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire, Levi, Josie and baby Jane

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Call

Helen Tangus, one of the lead hospital chaplains, prays with a group of patients.


While dozing off around 11pm last Thursday night, our house phone rang and Heather answered. “Do you want to talk to Dr. Galat?” she asked, clearly a call from the hospital. As she handed me the phone, I could hear chaos in the background, children crying and people talking in heightened tones, obviously stressed by whatever situation was unfolding in Casualty. This, in combination with the strong Kenyan-English accent of the caller, made it difficult for me to understand what was being said. I did, however, hear something about a child with a “traumatic amputation” and thought to myself, I had better head up to the hospital ASAP.

When I walked into Casualty a few minutes later, it was far worse than I anticipated. Over in one corner was a young woman whose right arm was wrapped from hand to shoulder with a blood-saturated dressing. Nearby, a small boy lay quietly on a stretcher, his entire right arm missing, with only a compression dressing on the remaining shoulder. Next to him, several staff members were attending an even younger patient, a little girl about two years old with severe facial and scalp lacerations. Between them stood a dazed, young woman with her own injuries, the mother of these two children, herself completely unable to cope with the trauma or offer any comfort. Across the room sat another, almost juvenile-looking injured mother, ignoring her own pain, desperately trying to nurse the crying child in her lap who also had bandages wrapping both legs. Under the dressings were severe abrasion injuries too horrific to describe. “Will you have to cut them,” the mother asked, looking first at the baby’s legs, and then, with desperation, into my eyes. The entire scene was surreal, and for the first time in years, I found myself slightly nauseated.

“What on earth happened here,” I asked out loud. No one was able to give a solid answer…something about a small bus swerving out of control after hitting a donkey. Stories like this are all too common, but what struck me hard that night was the fact that so many of the victims were multiply-injured women and children. “What are God’s purposes in all this?” I thought to myself as I was completing the amputation of the arm of the first young woman at 2am in the morning. The next day I found my answer, at least in part. Person after person: chaplains, visitors from the U.S., and staff heard about the victims of this accident and visited them, offering prayer and comfort and hope. This is the reason Tenwek Hospital exists, and why we are here, so that the arms of Jesus can be extended to those who are suffering. While answers may often escape us, we can continue, in faith, to reach out to those who are hurting, and trust that God’s purposes are always pure, always loving, and never random.

Please pray for the victims of this accident and the many others that we see at Tenwek on a regular basis. Thank you for all your prayers and support!

2 Cor. 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.