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

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wanted: Orthopaedic Surgeons

Motorcycle taxis are taking over!  These guys are the major source of orthopedic trauma at Tenwek.

Current surgical trainees at Tenwek...adding to the numbers of qualified (and Christian) surgeons in Africa. 

Random pic of what I call "scary baby" with very happy orthopaedic pediatric patient.  

One of the many cases mistreated at another facility, and tragically ending in an above knee amputation. 

Adding to the lure of attraction of orthopaedic practice in Kenya.  Work hard during the week, golf outings with son on the weekends (notice zebra in the background). 

Not only did this young lady have this painful basketball sized mass on her knee, but an ultrasound of her abdomen checking for evidence of metastasis revealed that she was 12 weeks pregnant.  You just can't make this stuff up.

A recent 60-page, 30+ author article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet reported data corraborating the purpose of our existence here at Tenwek mission hospital in rural Kenya.  The study reported that 5 billion people around the world are without access to safe surgical procedures, and that 93% of all people in sub-Saharan Africa cannot obtain basic surgical care.  The reason is simple: there aren’t enough qualified surgeons (nor facilities within reasonable distance) to provide life-saving surgery in low and middle income countries.  In Kenya, for example, which has a population of 43 million people, there are an estimated 50 orthopaedic surgeons, less than the number of residents at the Mayo Clinic alone.  The study also reports that 1/3 of all deaths in 2010 were from conditions which were treatable with surgery (including open fractures)…more than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined.  The problem is compounded by the fact that the number of injuries from road traffic accidents is exponentially on the rise.   This "perfect storm" of increasing need coupled with inadequate supply is creating a global healthcare crisis of massive proportions.  The authors call for an investment of 420 billion USD to increase access to safe surgical care.  Although a huge amount, they estimate that turning a blind eye to the problem could cost the global economy more than 12 trillion USD by 2030.  But the core issue is more than just financial...it is a mandate to care for those who are in greatest need or as Jesus put it, “the least of these.”

This article underscores the heartbeat of our mission statement at Tenwek: Compassionate healthcare, spiritual ministry and training for service.  Through the PAACS/COSECSA orthopaedic training program at Tenwek, we are trying to be a part of the solution to this global crisis: to provide more qualified national surgeons.  However, our training program is unique in that we are seeking to provide more than just surgeons, but Christian surgeons who are discipled to serve in a way that demonstrates the love of Christ to a hurting world.

The problem is that we cannot do this work of training national surgeons alone.  It is too great a job without the combined efforts of a team, whose members all have a common goal, the ultimate glory of the Lord Jesus Christ:
(1) We need those who will commit to long-term missions to join the orthopaedic team at Tenwek.  (2) We need those who will volunteer their time for short-term coverage to step in and provide relief and fresh teaching for the residents. Our need is especially acute now as we are looking for coverage July through December of this year during our scheduled furlough in the U.S.
(3) We need those who will “silently support” behind the scenes, praying and giving financially.   

Every month I receive orthopaedic journals in the mail with large classified sections in the back containing eloquently written "want ads" for orthopaedic surgeons.  Each ad enticingly describes the ideal location, work environment and compensation package.  I have often wondered what a "want ad" for an orthopaedic surgeon at Tenwek would look like:

Wanted: Orthopaedic Surgeon for Obscure Mission Hospital in Africa

Uniquely situated mission hospital in the highlands of western Kenya seeking qualified long-term and short-term orthopaedic surgeons.  Enjoy the best of equatorial highland living including lush, rolling hills, 12-hour 70-80 degree days year round and not one, but TWO rainy seasons.  Sip Kenyan coffee while working in the ideal environment: long hours, a plethora of complex cases well beyond your comfort (and skill) level, a constant sense of being overwhelmed, and with little recognition among your peers. However, the opportunity to impact the lives of patients and trainees in one of the most needy places on earth will provide you with significance and purpose beyond your wildest expectations.   Amazing benefits package including minimal earthly compensation, but with significant potential for long-term eternal rewards.  Do something different off the beaten path!  For more information, contact Dan Galat at daniel.galat@wgm.org or Dayna Wright with World Medical Mission dwright@samaritan.org.