Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Tory, Emma, Tye, Claire, Levi, Josie, Jane and Ethan

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Future of Tenwek

Dr. Kiprono, a hard working orthopedic machine...

Stephen and our favorite patient on the female surgical ward. In Kipsipis, she calls Stephen her grandson, and me, her son-in-law?!

Laughter makes long days shorter...

"Thumbs down" for this unfortunate patient with a massive open knee fracture, another victim of the barrage of Bajaj motorcycle taxi accidents.

This past week, the Galat family celebrated our first year anniversary at Tenwek hospital, and as we went around the table thanking God for the incredible ways he has worked in the past year, my mind wandered back to those tumultuous first few weeks in Kenya, getting settled in a new culture, the new sights, smells…and challenges. I still have the original hand written list of 30+ orthopedic patients handed off to me within 5 minutes of arrival at Tenwek (I thank God I will never have to repeat that initiation!).

When I started in orthopedic surgery at Tenwek last year, it was me and one Kenyan female intern, who obviously was extremely disinterested in orthopedics, having rather been with the little babies in the NICU. Solomon, our chief physiotherapist, and Meshack, our head orthopedic nurse (both critical to our work at Tenwek) were inconveniently on annual leave when I arrived. After a few weeks of pounding (December is the “high season” for orthopedic injuries…Christmas bonuses + time to burn + alcohol - Jesus = Trauma), I found myself thinking, well beyond my comfort zone, “There is NO way I will survive here.” Thankfully, God promises never to give more than we can handle…Solomon and Meshack eventually returned from leave, and various orthopedic surgeon visitors began to arrive (at just the right time) to help with the workload. Then, in April 2009, more quickly than I had envisioned, Tenwek began as a training site for Kenyan orthopedic residents from Moi University in Eldoret.

Dr. Geoffry Kiprono, our most recent visiting resident from Moi, arrived in early November. Kiprono is one of 16 children of his still-living 90+ year-old father (who incidentally practiced polygamy, Kiprono’s mother being the “less favored wife”), and grew up with nothing. However, determined to succeed, he worked hard, and was eventually accepted to medical school. Kiprono first arrived at Tenwek in 2003 as an intern, and being Kipsigis (the most populous tribe in this area), was happily posted to Tenwek as a Medical Officer (MO), in which capacity he worked for 4 additional years. While working as an MO, he was exposed to orthopedics working with Dr. Mike Chupp and other visitors from the U.S., and knew this was his calling. Thus, in the fall of 2008, he began his 4 year orthopedic training residency at Moi, and being sponsored by Tenwek (residents actually have to pay for their training, unlike in the US), will eventually return as a full-time consultant once fully trained. Kiprono is the future of Tenwek…

God has provided exceedingly and abundantly more than I could have imagined over this past year: a highly organized, hard-working, and committed orthopedic surgical team with solid implant selection, a dedicated physiotherapy department, Stephen as our full-time orthopedic RN, various and multiple orthopedic visitors who commit time and energy to Tenwek, a strong teaching program including visiting medical students from Kenya and the U.S., Kenyan interns, residents, and the external rotation for Kenyan orthopedic residents from Moi, all working together as a team to provide our patients with (1) the best possible orthopedic care and (2) the good news of Jesus Christ, Hope for this world. God has done ALL this, and He deserves the praise and glory!

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
Isaiah 41:18-20


Andrea said...

Hello friends. I love reading your blog and hearing the faithfulness of God. Thank you.
I am a HS mother of 4 also and we serve Samaritans Purse in our local city for Operation Christmas Child. When you feel like you aren't making a difference, just look at your last patient. You made a difference to them.
May Jesus be your strength and power.


Tushar said...


You are doing a fantastic job. All the best for your work. Also I would like to share some of the orthopedic precautions which should be undertaken during covid-19 pandemic like proper investigation in the case of patients with a tumor or a pathological fracture or cauda equina.