Saturday, October 27, 2012

A bilateral cleft lip means more room for fingers!
This patient was the last cleft lip of the project.

A happy reunion.  This is me with Moses (right) and Joseph (left), both nurses from Lui Hospital.  I operated on Joseph over 10 years ago.  He came as close to death as I have seen anyone ever come and survive.  By God's grace he is doing well and working as a medical assistant.  He might be the reason that I ever came to Sudan in the first place.  
Lindsey with a cute one.
In surgery.
One of the many Nyancheks.
Me with the boss-man checking my work.
It has been an interesting time here in Juba.  We finished up the cleft lip camp.  78 patients were operated on.  It was a good chance for me to scrub on a bunch of these cases.  I mostly assisted, but I did more and more of them as the time went on.  It is so different from the cases that I usually do.  Only about an inch or so of the body is involved, but it is in such a visible area that it changes everything.  The surgery is technically exacting, as you want to do everything in your power to make things look as nice as possible.  There is also a lot of art in it.  You are workin on someone's face, and the face is your identity!

Many or these patients were named "Nyanchek" (or some variant). This word means something like "deformity".  Imagine what life would be like to named Deformity.  In many of their eyes we could see the shame and misery that they had suffered.  The most exciting part of the camp was watching these patients as they looked at their new faces for the very first time.  Some of them just seemed stunned, like suddenly looking in a mirror and not recognizing yourself.  Others were so full of joy and burst into spontaneous songs and praise to God.  I operated on the oldest patient, a woman of 60 or so.  At that age, I would think, "why bother?"  When she was asked why she wanted surgery, she said that she just wanted to be able to hold her head up and not be ashamed.  

Many of the patients chose new names for themselves.  The chaplains spent a lot of time with these folks, explaining that their physical change was only a part of the real spiritual change that they could be theirs by following Jesus.  One of them changed her name to Grace.  Another changed hers to "Amore."  She said it was the name of a beautiful cow that she remembered.  "Beautiful Cow" might not be the name we would all choose, but it is pretty amazing to think that someone could get a new face, a new name, a new identity.  It is even more amazing to think that someone could even be born again.

The cleft lip camp coincided with the Franklin Graham Festival which took place over the last two days in Juba.  The place was packed and you could feel the excitement in the crowd.  The message given was the same simple gospel message that is preached around the world. We are all sinners, but Christ died to save us.  This message is delivered in a straightforward, no frills manner.  There was no persuasive arguments and no promises of any kind.  It was the simple gospel message, but when it was over and the invitation was given, the people rushed forward to receive it.  It was so powerful to see this in action.  

So it has been a time of change.  We have seen changing faces, changing names and changing lives.  It has been a thrill to see it and to play a small part.  Tomorrow morning, Lindsey and I will leave for Maban.  We will be working in a small hospital near the border with (North) Sudan.  Samaritan's Purse is working there to care for refugees who have fled from the conflict across the border.  Please continue to pray for us as we serve in this difficult situation.  

Warren (for the both of us)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Panoramas from Juba!

 It has been fun to be part of the cleft lip thing here in Juba. I feel like I am getting better at doing them. It is a nit-picking sort of operation. A matter of a millimeter here or there makes a big difference. This is very different from my general surgical approach.  In one way the operations is fairly simple, but whole textbooks have been written about how to do it properly.

I am attaching below two links for panorama views. The first is from the top of a mountain near Juba.  The second  is in the courtyard of Juba Teaching Hospital. 


Cleft Lip Camp: South Sudan (October 23, 2012)

Warren and Youssef
It has been about a month since our last blog from DRC….now we join you from South Sudan!  We are here for the Samaritan’s Purse’s second annual cleft lip camp in the capital of South Sudan called Juba.  Some amazing things are happening in the lives of these people born with facial deformities!  To give you an idea of how significant this problem is, many of the people are named “deformity,” meaning that this is their identity.  It takes a lot of courage for people to even believe  that they can and even should be healed of their deformities.  I have been told that one of our patients, Youssef, ran away from the hospital several times.  Both Warren and I were involved in his surgery…he was the only man with a moustache.  I remember praying specifically for this man during the case.  He was so happy afterwards, wanting to shake hands with everyone.  He returned to his village by air today to his wife and children a changed man. 
Warren, Youssef, and Dr. Jim
There have been patients who have said that no one has ever loved them like this before, evidence that our God must be real.  This is so powerful and so true.  A large group of patients burned their amulets, having tangibly experienced that Jesus is more powerful than the spirits.  Some people have professed faith in Christ.  We pray that these people will grow in their relationship with Jesus as they return to their homes.

It has been great for Warren to work on his surgical approach to cleft lips, alongside ENT surgeons.  He has great technique already, but this is refining his skills and giving him confidence.  I have been helping to provide deep sedation (anesthesia) and working with an anesthesiologist.  This has been fun and kept me on my toes…a new realization that during a case I am responsible for a patient’s survival.  During critical care fellowship I have learned so many useful things for this setting.  I have provided anesthesia for many of Warren’s cases…adjusted his surgical loupes, scratched his back, and the list goes on-and-on….you know those surgeons need lots of assistance! 

I often say, “It is hot!”  Warren tells me that he is trying to break me of this phrase by coming to Sudan.  So far it is still hot and one sweats without doing anything.

On Friday and Saturday we will participate in a festival with Franklin Graham here in Juba, South Sudan, called “Hope for a Nation.”  Really looking forward to this!  We have been told that there will be choirs from throughout the country singing together.  After this we will travel to a place called Maban in South Sudan to work in a local hospital with lots of refugees from North.  I have been told that there are many malnourished children there and I am sure we will have our hands full.

Intake from Nuba Mountains
Overlooking Juba

Can you find my (Lindsey's) feet?
Goodnight from South Sudan!
Warren and Lindsey