Monday, December 30, 2013

We treat, God heals.

We admitted 2 babies on consecutive days with respiratory distress caused by a lung 
infection. When I saw the first one and the baby was breathing 100 times a minute (normal is less than 60) and had an oxygen saturation of 60 percent (normal above 92 percent), I told the mother that the child was very sick, but that we would try. We started antibiotics and IV fluids. The next day, another infant was admitted in an even worse condition breathing 120 times a minute and with a saturation of 50 percent and again I told the mother that we would try. We transferred the only oxygen we had from the first baby, who was slightly better, but still in need of oxygen, to the second baby. Then, there was no electricity overnight to run the oxygen concentrator, so I was surprised to see that the second infant was still alive the next day. 

Miraculously, both babies survived. “We treat, God heals.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Come to me all you who labor and I will give you rest.

Minette was a little girl who came in with difficulty breathing and swelling of her legs. She had so much difficulty breathing that she had to sleep sitting almost upright and her breathing was extremely labored for several days. Every time I saw her I thought, “How long will she be able to breathe like this?” I felt that at any moment her breathing could just give out. She had malaria that caused severe anemia which in turn caused heart failure. We treated her with blood transfusions, oxygen, and medicine to help her heart and finally after about 4 days she improved. I knew she was better the day I came in and she was lying down to rest. “Come to me all you who labor and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Friday, December 20, 2013

Welcome to God’s House

The chapel is at the center of the hospital compound. Every day the staff starts with Morning Prayer and a short reflection before going to work. Surrounding the chapel are garden beds with tiny shrubs formed into words. At first, this might go unnoticed, but the words really struck me and are as follows:

“Welcome to God’s House. Jesus is here, waiting for you.”
“Come to me all you who labor and I will give you rest.”
We treat, God heals.”

The motto of the hospital is “To see Christ in all by spending time to care.”The core values are Faith, Discipline, and Selflessness.We are blessed to really see these things lived out by the staff each day and it all begins in the chapel.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


We had a very nice Thanksgiving celebration with an American premed student who has been volunteering at the hospital for the last several months and with 2 Belgian midwifery students who were doing a practical rotation here. We did not have turkey, although we have seen some turkeys around, however chicken was a fine substitute. We had stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, Magic Cookie bars and even pumpkin pie. Thank you to Terry and Jim, the volunteers here before us, who had left some things like butterscotch chips, flaked coconut, and canned pumpkin which came in handy. We ate until we were all stuffed!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Special Day

We had a very special day recently.  We celebrated the Baptism of Mokenyu Francis Mundi Akumbom. Jennifer and I are honored to be Francis’s godparents.

We came to know Francis’s parents quickly during our short time here.  His father, Kevin, is a radiology technician at the hospital and Valerine, his mother, is Nicholas’s first grade teacher.  It was a beautiful ceremony and we look forward to getting to know Francis and his wonderful family better in the coming years.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


The line between life and death in the developing world is precarious. A patient, whom one thinks will surely die, miraculously survives, while another patient can be talking with you and, a few hours later, that same patient is dead. Many times it is HIV/AIDS that steals people away, maybe from opportunistic infections that we can’t diagnose. Our diagnostics and treatment options for all diseases are more limited here, so we rely on what is most common or probable and treat with what we have. But too often it is not enough or it is too late. Death seems more unexpected and unfair here. It takes babies, children, new mothers, and young people, not just the elderly or chronically ill. As a physician, it makes one question one’s ability to diagnose and treat patients. What is it that lets one survive and the other die? Is it that patient’s will to live? Is it God? Is it destiny? Is it our treatment? Or a combination of these?

Please, pray for those who are sick, suffering, and dying, their families, and those who try to care for them.