Dear Friends and Family,
The ward is full to overflowing. The four bed wards now have six beds and the hallways have become a patient ward. We are anxious for the new clinic to be finished so that we can add seven beds to the OB ward. Yesterday I called Allison to see if she could locate the new iron beds that were made by the welder. They are not totally finished but I was desperate for more beds. I have seven major surgeries scheduled for today and I’m sure we will be interrupted for emergencies. Usually during this time of year we are checking the standings of our favorite college basketball teams and hoping they can make it past the initial first round. But this year my March Madness is a little different. I call it Soddo March Madness.
In February Mark attended the annual meeting of the Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They met at the Hilton in Addis Ababa. Mark is the only foreign member of the academy. Can you find him?
We don’t talk much about malaria. Because Soddo is at such a high altitude we do not need to take malaria prophylaxis. Even though great strides have been made with treated mosquito nets and sanitation, malaria still rears its ugly head in parts of the country.
The baby’s name is Meherit which means mercy. Her mother came to us from the rural area suffering from cerebral malaria. At the time of admission she was incoherent. It quickly became obvious that Meherit was in trouble. We did an emergency CS and amazingly the baby survived. She required oxygen for several days. Her aunt came in to care for her. Unfortunately, the malaria took its toll on her mother and she was unable to recover. She died without ever seeing her daughter. Just before Meherit was born we had another patient who had typhoid fever and delivered at home four days earlier. She was also acutely ill and died of a ruptured bowel with overwhelming sepsis. Her baby was also cared for by family members in our OB ward. Both of these patients were cared for with our maternal benevolent fund.
On a more positive note, a woman came from a health center after being fully dilated for four hours. They had allowed her to labor even though she had a previous classical caesarian section. This means that instead of the incision being horizontal on the uterus, it was vertical, which puts the patient at much greater risk for uterine rupture. This is only the second case that I have seen where the uterus has ruptured and the baby survived. Her little girl was out of the uterus but the umbilical cord was still attached and there was just a thin layer of peritoneum near the patient’s bladder that had not given way which allowed the baby to survive. It truly was a miracle. Today I advised the parents that they should name their daughter Tamarat which means miracle, for it truly was a miracle that this baby survived. I also stressed to them that she must NOT go into labor if she has a subsequent pregnancy and that we would deliver her baby three weeks early.
I have also stayed busy doing a lot of prolapse cases. Uterine prolapse is a significant problem in this country. I am doing around four cases per week. All of these are funded by the Canadian Foundation, “Mother’s With a Heart for Ethiopia.”
In February Dean and Colleen Wolf paid us a visit. Dean is a contractor and he came out to do work on the OB ward. We remodeled two private bathrooms in the ward during his 3-week visit. It was eye popping for Dean. A simple 5-hour ceramic tile job in the U.S. turned into a five-day job here! By the time he left though the bathrooms were looking much improved. Thanks so much to this sacrificing couple! (Colleen hates her picture being published so I didn’t include one:) This past weekend we joined the Charlottesville Community Church in the lakeside town of Hwassa where we had a missionary staff retreat. It was restful and enlightening.
A great big heart felt thank you to the North Muskegon High School Interact Class that raised over $4000.00 for the hospital. Under the direction of Mr. John Slocum, a teacher and long time friend, they poured their hearts into a fundraiser for us. We are humbled and blessed to have you part of our team. This money will be used for the remodeling of the OB ward and the furnishings in the new clinic.
(The North Muskegon Interact Class sent T-shirts to our OB staff. Here we are posing outside of the OB ward. We made a short video for the fundraising event, ending with the chorus, “Go Norse!”)
WRAPS Update: This week WRAPS went out to a rural school to teach and give out our product. Funded by a grant from the Canadian foundation, “Mother’s With A Heart for Ethiopia, we packed 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls into a small library over two days sharing our product, feminine hygiene and encouraging the girls to stay in school. I asked each class of girls, before I began to speak, what they had done that morning. The school started at 12:30 PM. I asked them if they had access to water. They all nodded their heads in unison. I asked if it was far. They said, “No, it is not far. Just 15 minutes walk. Before school that day the girls had gone to the stream to fetch water. They had chopped firewood for their mothers, taken care of the small children and helped their mother prepare food. More than half of the 8th grade girls did not come to school the day that we were there. When they finish 8th grade at this rural school their only option is to go to Soddo, a 15 minute drive, where they can begin 9th grade. I asked them, “Will you go to Soddo to school?” They said, “Yes.” I asked them if they would live in Soddo or take a taxi?” They said, “No, it is not far. We will walk to school. It is just a 30 minute walk.” That being said, you have to really want to succeed in school to make it out of the 8th grade. I have no illusions that Wraps is going to change the world. We are doing our best to solve one sliver in the layers and layers of issues that crush a girl’s educational goals. Each kit costs $7.00. We gave away these kits. If you feel the urge to help us out, you can give to our project at Globaloutreach.org. Hit the donate button and click our name and account #3020 and specify for WRAPS. 100% of your donation will go to WRAPS. Thanks so much.
Thank you for your prayers, faithful contributions and your outpouring of love. There are days when we wonder if we can keep up the pace. The nights when Mark doesn’t return from clinic until 9:00 at night and then has six major surgeries the next day, we question whether we can keep going. Your prayers sustain us. If you know of an OB/GYN that would like to come and help us out, please drop us a line.
For the kingdom,
Mark and AllisonM