Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Comments on the Alaska Surgical Team by Wendy (Scarborough) Taihuttu

...A week ago we had a surgical team come to work with us from Alaska.

They stayed for two weeks operating on over forty of our patients.

(There is still many listed and waiting for another chance.) This was

a huge blessing. There has been no local surgeon on the island for a

while and even if there was our patients or our organisation could

not have afforded the surgery offered by this team. This was a time of miracles.

We worked with the local hospital and our staff were all able to

learn a lot as the team taught us so much. They were fantastic and

touched so many lives. The few weeks had alot of backup work

beforehand which was tiring but well worth it. So many people were

blessed by this team including me but at the same time it was the

hardest time I have ever had. Seeing all the patients and working

along side the Doctor was emotionally exhausting. Many of our

patients had waited months some years for surgery. These are people

with families and have come to us over and over with hope. Some of

these people I had to explain that surgery could not help them and without a miracle they would not be here much longer.

This is hard enough when we have to give news like this to maybe a

patient a week at the clinic but to be telling several patients often

friends this daily was exhausting. This was an amazing time but

requires strength. The team plans to come back yearly. This saves

lives, teaches all our staff new lessons and touches everyone. We

thank God so so much for this.

Please pray for continued strength always. Pray for those patients

who had surgery and for those who did not get surgery. Please pray

also for our local team as there are so many needs and always so much to do.

Ayu is doing well, she has settled in good and her mother has just

egreed to let her stay with us for as long as she wants. This is an

answer to prayer as Ayu loves being here, wants to stay forever and we love her.

Thank you so much for your prayers. It is really appreciated. Thank you

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We're Back! What an excellent Trip!

The last three weeks of this projected involved bringing a surgical team from Alaska to Tobelo to work in the public hospital. The team had many difficulties obtaining the proper visa to work in Indonesia and from the other end the team in Tobelo was having a hard time optaining permission and invitations. The invitatations from the local health department never materialized until the team arrived in Indonesia. I am not sure how the team managed to get the visas without this...the first miracle.

Wendy had a long list of surgeries to perform before the team arrived. She put in a remarkable amount of work in setting up for the project.

My job was 'head gopher'... go fer this and go fer that. I was especially pleased with the benefit that my language learning efforts provided. Thanks to the Rosetta Stone computer program the language came fairly fast. Yayan the driver was particularly happy since his english was minimal. We became good friends.

Except for the airconditioning the Operating Room was in very good shape for the surgeries. It had been newly outfitted with brand new equipment including a 'never-been-used' anethesia machine . We are not sure if the hospital knows how to use it but our Anesthesiologist, Dr. Jean was very happy. The rest of the hospital was in marginal condition needing a lot of bleach and plumbing repairs. My first assignment was to fix the handwashing sinks in the ward, 5 of them required new spiggots. Maintenance on the hospital was being ignored entirely. The airconditioning in the operating room had to be repaired so that no one would drip sweat into the wound. This was accomplished only after agreeing to pay $35 for freon to recharge the condensor. It seems the hospital has no budget for repairs and upkeep.

While in the hospital, the team, under direction of Dr. Danny, performed over 40 surgeries. On the last day the team went to the Kusuri Clinic and did some additional minor operations. The Staff at the Kusuri Clinic were enthusiastic and willing to help during the whole project and we couldn't have done it with out their interpreting skills and assistance with the patients.

On one occasion we thought one of the patients would not survive the surgery. She had a cancerous tumor the size of a soccer ball weighing 6 lb . We prayed a lot for her and within a few days she was walking around and on the way to recovery.

We grew attached to our patients and to see them smile with appreciation was more than enough reward.

Special thanks to Janet who organized the whole project from start to finish... a huge task, with many difficult decisions.

Recognition is also due to Christina who was my main inspiration to run every morning at 5:30 am. She took on the role of 'coach' arranging our running schedule with 'intervals', 'ladders' and other torturous activities.

There is considerable consensis that next year we should do another surgery team, especally enthusiastic is Dr. Danny who considers this trip "just the beginning".