Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

We hope all is well with you and your loved ones. We have been blessed this year in so many ways and we thank you for your love and support.

The children continue to attend St. Anthony’s Catholic School and have participated in many school activities.  They have also started a home schooling program through the Baptist Church, which includes time with the other missionary children in Cameroon twice a year.

Jennifer and Brent are balancing the work in the hospital and home schooling.  We really enjoy working at St. Martin De Porres and especially appreciate the staff and the presence of the Sisters in the hospital.  Their commitment to the people they serve is truly a witness of Christ here on Earth.

We returned to the US in November to take our every 10 year Family Medicine recertification exam which we, thankfully, both passed. Now we are enjoying the holidays with family and friends. Kids are enjoying their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and even got to throw a few snowballs!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and may Christ’s peace and love be with you throughout the year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Big Thank You !

Dr. Earl and Rosemary Parrish just finished 6 weeks volunteering at St. Martin De Porres.

Dr. Parrish is a plastic surgeon and Rosemary is a nurse. They both worked together many long hours, both in Njinikom and at Mbingo. So many patients were able to have surgeries that were life changing; surgeries that would be impossible in this part of the world without their presence.

So a Big Thank You Earl and Rosemary from all of us at Njinikom and Mbingo!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Therapeutic Committee Review

Each week we review all new HIV patients who qualify for HIV medications.  Patients qualify for HIV medications based mainly on two factors: clinical stage and CD4 level.   We also review those patients who are failing treatment.

The meeting is a time when counselors, nurses and physicians come together. Each person
plays an important role in deciding the  treatment regimen and identifying barriers to treatment adherence.

Though it can be difficult hearing the various patient stories, it is also a testament to the love and care the staff have for the people we serve.  We are blessed to be a part of this committee each week.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sean Igelman is a recent graduate in Chemistry from Brown University and comes from Brent’s hometown, Medford, OR. His father is a Dermatologist and knows and collaborates with Brent's sister who is also a Dermatologist in Medford.

Sean has spent the last two months  working at the hospital, learning about the culture, and experiencing healthcare in Cameroon. He's had the chance to work in the various departments of the hospital, go to outreach clinics, spend time at a school with a Peace Corps worker, work on a HIV study, mentor the local youth in AIDS education, as well as, be a science tutor for our children. We've really enjoyed having him here and look forward to the possibility of his younger brother coming next year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Julianna Abeh is a 94 year old lady.  She comes to the hospital, every few months for her high blood pressure.

This photo she is accompanied by her granddaughter.  It is always a joy to see her smiling face.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

There has not been a case of Ebola in Cameroon.

We are becoming concerned though, as the outbreak in West Africa has come to Nigeria and a separate outbreak is occurring in the Congo.

St. Martin De Porres Hospital has patients daily from Nigeria and our "Big" cities Yaounde and Douala.

We have have been preparing for the possibility of Ebola with talks and protocols but praying that it doesn't arrive and for those being affected.

Friday, August 29, 2014

We are at the high point of the rainy season. 
The roads have gotten so bad that we are unable to go to our outreach clinics in our trucks.

We are now sending a nurse, by motorcycle, to see patients.

This is a video of one of our outreach trips.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sonshine Christian Academy

We are participating in a home school program developed by the Cameroon Baptist Convention.

The program, Sonshine Christian Academy, caters to missionary families from many parts of Cameroon. The program consists of home schooling materials, a two week group session in Bamenda in August and again in February, and a two week home visit. The home visit is by the director of the program who helps with assessment and teaching.

We are now in Bamenda for the first two weeks.  Jennifer was here for the first week and I am here now for the second week.  Teaching is done by the parents and it has been really fun getting to know the other parents.

Two other families from Lay Mission Helpers (our sister organization) are also participating and are graciously letting us stay with them in Bamenda:)

The kids are having a blast!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Dublaise, an 8 year old boy, has been coming to the hospital frequently since our arrival. His mother is also HIV positive and his father has died.

He is on ARV’s but almost every month he comes in with worsening whole body swelling, fluid in his abdomen, and difficulty breathing.

The amount of suffering that the child and mother experience is almost unbearable to watch.

However, with medication and prayers, he improves and goes back home… a small miracle in spite of tremendous suffering.

We always know he is better when his insatiable appetite returns

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thank you Dr. Garlitos

Dr. Garlitos, is an internal medicine doctor from Southern California.  He has come to Njinikom through Mission Doctors Association.

He has been with us for the last month and has been working on the Male and Tuberculous wards.

He has also helped in the out patient department and with our therapeutic committee which overseas our HIV patient population.

We have really appreciated all of his help and look forward to his next visit!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Last night delivery

Sisters Hilda and Sister Cornelia called us last night to see one of the cows ("Advent")  deliver.

So at midnight we (Jen, Brent and kids) saw the delivery of "Daisy"..... so named by Julianne.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Our outreach at St. Martin De Porres includes 6 different clinics.

The clinics are 30 minutes to 3 hours traveling time from Njinikom.

One of the most challenging aspects, for these clinics, is their isolation and lack of transport.  This is especially true in the raining season when only motorcycles can get through.

All of these clinics deliver babies but cannot do a cesarean or transfuse blood.  You can imagine how challenging this would be for a patient with obstructed labor or postpartum hemorrhage at 2:00 AM on the back of a motorcycle!

We have been able to take our portable US to these clinics. Some of these clinics have no electricity which makes having the portable US with batteries especially nice.

We have identified a number of high risk pregnancies and these patients will deliver at St. Martin De Porres. Hopefully our out reach visits will decrease the number of transfers at 2:00 AM!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

Reflecting on Father’s day invariably brings memories of my own father.

He is always there to be a support when needed, provide advice when asked and lives each day as a model of a man I am striving to be.

In our house when I was growing up, I remember a small plaque, hung on wall, not in a very prominent place but a very prominent place in my mind’s eye with the saying:

                        “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

As a physician, may times I am able to see a family at the worst and best of times, seeing the strength of a father in the passing of a loved one and his joy in the birth of a child.  I have truly been blessed to be a witness to these events.

I have stumbled many times in trying to become the father to my children that my father has been to me, but another saying which rings so true for me is…. “It is not the number of times that I fall but the number of times I get up.” With each fall, I feel the helping hand of my father and those that came before me helping me to get up to strive to be the father I hope to be.

Thank you Dad and thanks to all the fathers who have shown me the love of our Heavenly Father touch their families in so many profound ways.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sister Hilda

Sister Hilda came to Njinikom, from Italy, in 1957 at the age of 27 years old.

She cares for the 65 plus cattle that provide milk for the orphanage and meat to sell to help support the sisters.

A few weeks ago Sister took us to a cave, the hike was challenging enough for the kids and daddy but Sister Hilda, at 84 years old, did not seem to have a problem.

She told us many stories from the past. One of her stories was how she would go up and down the mountain, to the other side of the river, 5 times in a day to retrieve “Elephant Grass” which is/was used to provide the roofs to the buildings. On her return trips, up the mountain, she would rest in the cave as it was much cooler and provided a nice rest before continuing up the mountain to Njinikom.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jen and I are spending one morning a week in Nicholas's class, helping the teacher. 

There are only 82 kids!

Today, I helped test the kids on religion. This is a child who is reciting a few of the 10 commandments.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Had a long Obstetrical call a while back

4 Cesareans done that day and a referral from another hospital arrived in the early evening with a mother who had been in labor for a couple of days. When she arrived the baby had died and she had obstructed labor (baby too big to come out from below).

I knew it would be a difficult cesarean and asked Dr. Dabo to help.  He graciously came in to help.  When we opened her abdomen we found baseball size clots of blood in her abdomen.  We were sure she had ruptured her uterus but could find no rupture. After delivering her baby we found she had ruptured her spleen.

Neither Dr. Dabo or I had done a splenectomy recently (never) so we called in our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lazare who, just happens to be our general surgeon too….. Dr. Lazare came in and performed the Splenectomy.  Mother did well post operatively and went home a week later. 

Needless to say my esteem for Dr. Dabo and Dr. Lazare went up a few notches that night J

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mother’s Day Thoughts

One of my favorite things about Cameroon is the many names I have here. I am Madame, Sister, Doctor, Mom, Mami, Mama. I am also called “Mom of …”(insert any one of my children’s names). Almost no one calls me by my first name. Any person who has a child can be called Mami (pronounced mah-mi) and I use this frequently when I talk with patients. I think it gives a sense of familiarity, especially when I can’t remember the patient’s name.

There are a few staff at the hospital who always call me Mom. This is my favorite title. It is rather endearing and makes me feel needed and wanted. However, with that title comes responsibility. I then need to be a model of kindness, respect, and compassion, taking the time to listen to the patient and do whatever I am called to do with a positive attitude and a grateful heart.

A favorite song at Mass here is “Mama Maria, mama, eh mama…” Mary is called Maria in Pidgin English. When we think about the formal titles we have for Mary like the Virgin Mary and Mother of God, she may not seem as accessible as when she is called Mama. As Mama, she becomes one of us. We need her and want her to intercess for us.

I also see Mary in the many mothers we see here with sick and suffering children of all ages. Mary’s heart broke when she saw her Son suffer and die. I think of the countless mothers here who have lost a child or children and endure that seemingly unbearable pain. Mary, then, becomes a source of comfort.

As I struggle daily with the mother that I want to be, let me look to Mary as my inspiration.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sister Xaveria

Sister Xaveria recently left her position as Matron at St. Martin De Porres Catholic Hospital and will now be overseeing the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis’ hospitals and health centers in Cameroon.

She spent 14 years as the Matron at St. Martin De Porres. During this time there was considerable growth including new surgical and obstetric wards, new theatre, chapel, and many other structures that have become part of the hospital.

She also created a place of caring and love, not only among the workers, but especially for the patients who come here.

We have been honored and blessed to know Sr. Xaveria and we know that her new position will bless many more.

Thank You Sister Xaveria!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Junior arrived from a referring hospital with his grandmother. He had been ill for 6 days and presented unconscious, seizing and febrile. His labs showed malaria, a low hemoglobin of 3 (normal 12 and above), low calcium of 1 (normal 8 – 10) and an elevated white blood count.  Treatment was started.

With a lot of praying and help from our growing expat consulting service (thank you Dr. Angela!), Junior improved over the next few days and was discharged much better than he arrived!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Collaboration with Mbingo Baptist Hospital

Drs. Chuck and Angela, from Mbingo Baptist Hospital which is about 30 minutes down the road from Njinikom, recently visited St. Martin de Porres and provided an excellent Saturday continuing medical education talk.

Dr. Chuck is an internal medicine doctor and his wife, Angela, is a pediatrician. They have been in Mbingo for the past two and half years.  Their on the ground experience has been invaluable to us and they have shared many medical pearls. They know first hand the challenges of working in a resource limited area.

We have been fortunate to get to know them and have been very fortunate to have had their expertise for some tough cases.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A happy follow up the other day…….

Adamou is a 9 year old boy who came to the hospital for the first time in January.  We were asked to see him urgently.  I was told he was referred from a clinic with the history of an undescended testicle. Upon arriving to see him, he was unconscious with rapid respirations.  He was subsequently found to be in diabetic ketoacidosis and had a fractured femur!

The history was that two weeks prior to his arrival to St. Martin De Porres he had been kicked by a cow and the family had tried various “traditional” treatments at home. He had not been able to walk since that time and the last few days before coming to the hospital he had become less responsive.
He was started on insulin and IV fluids and the orthopedic surgeon was consulted. He improved over the next week and was discharged. On follow up he was doing much better and the family was doing well providing insulin at home.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Youth Day

Cameroon celebrated Youth Day on February 11th.
For the past month, the children practiced and then competed among the schools in our area to see which schools would dance and sing for the Youth Day celebration. Our children’s school, St. Anthony, won first place in the traditional dance and the special youth day song and dance.  St. Anthony’s has been very inclusive, asking Christopher, Elizabeth, and Julianne to participate in everything. Despite their lack of natural rhythm, the kids learned the songs and dances well and really enjoyed themselves. If you look closely at the video, you may be able to spot them.  Surprisingly, it was the best 8 hours we’ve spent in the hot sun in a long time!

(Click on the video to view some of the performance)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is always a somber and yet reassuring time for me.  At one level it is a reminder of where I (Brent) came from and where I will go in this world (ashes to ashes) and at another level from God and to God I will go.

It helps to remember the latter especially when it seems that a patient is taken too early from this world……

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Welcome Mike and Reneal!

Mike will be working with us on medical ward and in the clinic as well as using his Deacon skills to help our Priest, Father Cletus.  Reneal, a nurse,  will be helping out on the wards and with various projects.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Ultrasound

We recently received a new ultrasound machine.  This was obtained by a donation from Mission Doctors Association.

It is a portable US so it allows us to take it to the wards, outpatient, maternity and recently to one of our outreach clinics.

It really helps to direct our care of patients!

The photo is of Dr. Dabo our Obstetrician/Gynecologist with the new portable US.


Friday, January 24, 2014


We asked the children to write "something" about Christmas this year, here is what they wrote.
Nicholas had a bit of prompting.


This year we had Christmas in Cameroon. It was fun, but I still missed my family. I got many Christmas presents like Legos, candy, gloves, a video game, and a magic set. But my favorite gift was Jesus coming to the world. This gift was from God.    

This Christmas was special because it was in Cameroon. There was no snow, but it was still fun. We did Advent calendars, hung stockings, decorated our tiny Christmas Tree In-A-Box and watched Christmas movies. The most exciting part was Christmas morning and seeing the presents left under the tree, and the milk, cookies and carrots gone. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, even in Cameroon.

Christmas was really fun. I got candy, a little stuffed bunny that I named Carrots or Fluffy. I also got little glass animals from Santa. I got a Polly Pocket girl with some clothes. I also got princess slippers and a lot of other stuff. We made some ornaments for the Christmas tree. We opened our advent calendars every day. We also went to a play about Mary and Joseph. When we woke up the carrots, cookies, and milk were gone.

What is special about Christmas?  Receiving presents, time with family, the birth of Jesus.
What did you do?  Put decorations up on the windows and a little Christmas tree including a star on top.
We went to celebrations including mom and dad’s anniversary that the Sisters had for them, Christmas Mass and a Christmas play at the hospital.