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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How a C-ARM Can Bring Glory to God: Ann's Story

Mr. Rugut and the team after installing the new boards. Note the smile on Rugut's face.

A VERY welcome screen..."System Ready for Image Processing."

Test patient: A Leatherman tool.

Ann is one of many patients who benefitted by the use of C-ARM during her surgery (which occurred prior to our C-ARM malfunction saga). She is now back home with friends and family, and able to stand and walk after more than 5 months of laying in bed with two broken legs.


The two circuit boards made their way from Chicago to Phoenix to North Carolina to Amsterdam to Nairobi and finally to Tenwek, but not without significant effort and ordeal (yet all infused with the grace and sovereignty of God) by the family who carried them, our friends, the Camerons. For the amazing story of the events of their journey, check out their blog, and please keep Scott in your prayers as he has surgery at Tenwek on Monday.

Mr. Rugut and his qualified team of Kenyan technicians received the boards just yesterday, and after installing them found that the problem has been fixed! Thanks to God, our C-ARM is now fully functional again…and I received report that within 20 minutes of the repair’s completion, the C-ARM was used to help fix the multiple fractures of a young girl who fell out of a tree. Dr. Daniel Matthews, the visiting orthopedic surgeon currently covering at Tenwek, emailed saying how thankful he is to have the C-ARM up and running…he also asked for prayers in managing the thirteen patients in the queue awaiting surgery!


When we ask and trust God for something that seems impossible, He often goes way beyond, far above what “we can even ask or imagine” so that all we can do is simply say, “God did that.” A mere week after sending out a plea for funds for a second C-ARM, and for the intern/resident housing project, the full amount for both projects has been pledged! The company in Chicago that provided the replacement circuit boards (incidentally, also as a donation) will also be providing us with a newly refurbished replacement C-ARM, identical to our current unit, so that, God willing, in the future, we will not be without fluoroscopy for an extended period of time again. The new unit should be ready for shipment in about 3 weeks.


“Ann,” a 40 something year old lady who was tragically involved in a car accident in December of 2009, and fractured BOTH femurs (thigh bones), the right side in the middle, and the left side near the hip. Because (a) she is HIV positive, a widow to a husband who died from the same disease, and (b) utterly destitute as a result, thus unable to afford the implants needed to fix both fractures, she laid in a government hospital for 5 months, no treatment, wasting away, losing strength and all hope.

Resigning to the fact that she would never be able to walk again, she was discharged to her small home near Lake Victoria. A missionary in the area learned of her plight, and brought her, like the Good Samaritan, to Tenwek, agreeing to pay all medical bills associated with her care. When I first met Ann, I felt a mixture of sorrow, compassion, anger (because of her blatant medical mismanagement) and dismay. Had her fractures been “fresh,” (i.e. not more than a few weeks old), fixing them would have been relatively easy. But instead, with two non-healed and chronic fractures, both legs shortened more than 5cm, and with knees that were frozen because of non-use, the surgeries would be much more difficult. Before starting every case at Tenwek, a prayer is said for the patient…the day of Ann’s surgery, our prayers were charged with an extra sense of dependence on God to provide wisdom, grace, strength and healing. Aided by a “then-functioning” C-ARM (her surgery thankfully occured right before our C-ARM broke), we placed a rod in the right femur, a plate on the left, and manipulated both knees to break up the scar tissue that had formed from months of inactivity. After three weeks of intense physiotherapy (the patient being very unhappy with her doctor who insisted she continue to bend her knees daily), she WALKED out of the hospital (with the help of a walker), praising God!

Ann is just one of hundreds of patients who have been blessed by the generosity of the hundreds of people like you, who serve “behind the scenes” by giving, praying, as well as advocating and championing. Without our donated (current, and soon-arriving) C-ARMs, surgeries like hers would be, in the least, far more difficult, if not impossible. Without the donated implants, patients like her would still be laying in bed, unable to walk, or worse. And without housing for the interns and residents (i.e. extra manpower) there would be no way to take on “elective” patients like Ann. All these blessings work together for our patients so that they can glorify God, by saying, “Jesus healed me!” Thank you again for your continuing prayers and support!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Urgent Needs at Tenwek: C-ARM and Intern Housing Updates

The core of what we do at Tenwek is educating national doctors-in-training. Left to right, Dr. Jeff (general surgery resident), Dr. Shadrack (intern) and Dr. Kilonzo (orthopedic resident from Moi), all of which were on the orthopedic service when I left Kenya.

The progress of the first intern/resident building, with completion set for August.

Three days after returning to the US, I was (again) on a plane, this time to Chicago, wedged in a window seat on a crowded flight (yet thankful for the free ticket, compliments of my in-law’s frequent flier miles), on a mission to troubleshoot the two boards that I brought with me from our C-ARM at Tenwek. In Chicago, I met with the “guru” of OEC technology, who was able to test both boards on another machine, and unbelievably, both motherboards, in addition to the hard drive…ALL THREE were blown (as someone said, “when it rains, it pours!). But, thanks to God, they had replacement boards in stock, and after testing to make sure they were working properly, I promptly shipped them to the next visitor who will be leaving for Kenya next week. So God willing, by the end of next week, with these two new boards, and with the hard drive that was previously brought to Tenwek, our current C-ARM will be up and running. Thank you for your prayers for Tenwek, and for our current orthopedic visitors throughout this ordeal. Dr. Tim and Jennifer Oswald just left Tenwek, and here is an excerpt from their latest newsletter: “Tim had a great last week of surgery at Tenwek, doing a huge volume of cases. Despite adjustments due to the broken c-arm, his surgeries were successful and he was able to do a lot of teaching.” God is always faithful!

Now that goal #1 is on the way to being accomplished (fixing our current C-ARM), I have been concentrating on goal #2: obtaining a second C-ARM for Tenwek so that this problem does not happen again. After much thought and consultation with others involved in this project, we decided that it would be most advantageous and cost effective to obtain a unit identical to our current model OEC 9000 (making maintenance, parts, etc. streamlined). The estimated cost will be about $25,000 with shipping and I am currently obtaining quotes from different companies (less than the original estimated amount of $40,000). Please continue to pray that God would direct us to the right unit for our needs at Tenwek.

Another urgent need at Tenwek is the “Intern/Resident Housing Project” that I mentioned in previous updates. Tenwek, as an educational institution, is committed to teaching national doctors-in-training, many of which rotate on orthopedics. However, there is sub-adequate housing for many of these trainees. The first of two buildings is already paid for and construction well underway, and should be finished by August. However, as our medical superintendent wrote in his recent update, “we desperately need to begin the second building (which will house 12 additional doctors in training) before final completion of the first. This will save us a great deal of effort and money in reducing replication of services by the same building company, which needs to know by the end of June whether or not we will be able to start further construction.” As such, there is an urgent need to raise $250,000 by the end of June to start construction on this second building. Since orthopedic surgery is heavily involved in training these physicians, I have been asked to raise $25,000 toward this intern/resident housing project (and which I feel is very justified, and so important for what we do at Tenwek).

God is easily able to provide $50,000 for these two very important and urgent projects, through His people. Many of you have faithfully given toward the work at Tenwek over the past two years. But, if God has lain on your heart to give towards these special projects, please step out in faith and do so. The easiest way to donate would be to give directly into our project account at Samaritan’s Purse (account #003333), which you can do by calling Mary Elizabeth Jameson directly at 828-278-1508 or 828-278-1355, or by mailing a check to: Samaritan’s Purse PO Box 3000 Boone, NC 28607 (for account #003333). Please note that no administrative fees are taken out of this account…100% goes towards the ministry.

I look forward to seeing how God provides! If you decide to donate, please send me a quick email so that I can keep track of your donation and of the total amounts. Thanks again for your prayers and support. May God richly bless you!

Friday, June 4, 2010

We Have Arrived!

Saying goodbye to our family at Tenwek. We will miss everyone while we are away~

Levi saying goodye to his good friend Will Manchester.

On the day we left, we spent a few hours at the Giraffe Center. That's right...I think she liked me.

The girls loved feeding the giraffe.

A typical scene during our 24 hour journey back to the U.S. The last leg from Detroit to Phoenix.

Back in the U.S.
After one and a half years of service at Tenwek, over 1000 orthopedic surgical cases, a solid two school years of homeschooling, and many full joys and experiences, we have arrived safely back in the U.S., in Phoenix, staying with Heather’s parents. The kids were ecstatic to see grandparents, and go swimming (yes it is HOT here…I miss the 75 degree perfect weather of Tenwek), but they already say how much they miss their other “home” at Tenwek. Although a year and a half is not long according to adult standards, it is quite a length of time for kids. Levi was wondering why eggs are “white” in America, and Emma could not get over the fact that there was an automatic soap dispenser in the bathroom at the Detroit airport. Jeremiah is already hunting rabbits in the backyard here is suburban Phoenix, and Claire can’t wait to go to McDonalds. We feel so privileged to serve at Tenwek, and look forward to returning, God willing, in about a year.

Update on Maggie
Prior to leaving Kenya on Wednesday, we visited Maggie, the young lady who had a revision total hip arthroplasty in April. She is doing incredibly well, and the limp that she had preoperatively is almost gone, and will continue to improve as she strengthens the muscles around her hip joint (click here to see video of Maggie walking). Her pain is completely gone, and she wanted to express her thankfulness to all those who helped make this miracle possible.

Update on Tenwek C-ARM: Good News and Bad News
Bad news first: A week and a half prior to our departure from Tenwek, the only functional C-Arm at Tenwek stopped working. Our initial assessment was that the hard drive had failed; however, after installing the emergency parts that arrived with our most recent visitor, the same error message occurred. Apparently, one of two CPU motherboards that communicate with the hard drive also malfunctioned (a much more difficult problem to diagnose)…the bottom line issue is that our C-ARM is still not working, making the practice of quality orthopedics much more challenging for our current visitors. Here is an excerpt from the most recent update from the Oswalds: “Please pray for Tim. Without the c-arm he has had to treat some patients without surgery, which means longer hospital stays and possibly less excellent outcomes. While we are only here a couple weeks, this will be an ongoing problem for these patients. As Tim explained, if a c-arm is broken in the states, they just do NOT do the surgery until a working c-arm is accessible. Here, there is no choice.”

The good news: I brought both motherboards with me from Tenwek, and due to the great urgency of this problem, I will fly to Chicago on Sunday, where I will meet with the “guru” of OEC technology, and representatives from the company I have been in contact with from Cleveland, who can hopefully, collectively, diagnose the problem, and fix these motherboards so that our current C-Arm can be made functional again (they have all been incredibly helpful, even calling our tech in Kenya for information). Additionally, this company also has newly refurbished units that are immediately available for purchase, and I will be looking over the options on Monday. Please PRAY that this trip to Chicago would bear fruit, that our current C-Arm will soon be functioning again, and that God provides another C-Arm for use at Tenwek. As such, we need to urgently raise about $40,000 for the purchase and air freight of another unit. If you feel God leading you to give toward this immediate need, please let me know, and I can direct how you can help. Alternatively, you can call Samaritan’s Purse directly at 828-278-1508 (Mary Elizabeth Jamison) or 828-278-1355 (Scott Reichenbach). We are trusting God to provide abundantly for the people He cares for in Kenya. Thank you for all the prayers and support you have offered our family, and for your partnership in this ministry at Tenwek!