Ethiopia Spine Surgery Mission 2018 – Days 6-11
Monday, May 21, 2018
Today is actually day 11 that we have been doing surgery, but I have been overwhelmed with all the surgeries we have been doing and trying to take care of everyone that I have not had time to blog. Let me try to catch you up!
As of today (Saturday May 26th, 2018) we have already finished 27 surgeries! We are all exhausted but only 5 more surgeries to go until we come home!
For our 1st surgery of this day Dr. Belanger performed surgery on a 46 yr old lady who has ankylosing spondylitis. She is completely bent over. She has the same deformity that Hayminot had when we did his surgery in the USA. We had to do her surgery in 2 parts. We started the case by trying to position the patient. This is very difficult because of her deformity and they do not have the correct table to place her on, so we had to build the table up with padding and tape. After finishing the first part of the surgery her blood pressure was very low, so we waited a few minutes until proceeding. We brought her back the next day to finish her surgery, and she is doing good.
In another OR Dr. Onimus was performing surgery on a 17 yr old female. She had scoliosis. Dr. Angobaldo was in another OR where he was removing a neurofibromatosis tumor. We also removed several little tumors on the patient’s face, chest, arms & legs that were bothering him. He is very, very happy and is doing great.
Tuesday May 22, 2018
Today we tried to take it easy on the surgeries. We did 5 surgeries.
Dr. Aucoin did a syrinx surgery and then a laminectomy at T11/12.
Dr. Belanger did a hardware removal on someone who was infected. I helped with this surgery. Dr. Belanger also did a 98 degree scheuermanns kyphosis case with Dr. Onimus. He later brought back the lady from yesterday to finish her surgery.
Another long day.
Wednesday May 23rd, 2018
Today we did another case of ankylosing spondylitis. This was a 45 year old male who was also bent over. His surgery went great! He looks so good and he is so happy. In another OR Dr. Onimus was preforming a scoliosis surgery on a 14 yr old female.
Dr. Aucoin and myself brought the 3 yr old burn patient back to the OR so we could change her bandages under sedation. This is when we found an infection. We cleaned her up very well and re-bandaged the wound for 2 more days. We will bring her back on Friday to change it again.
Thursday May 23rd, 2018
Today went pretty smoothly in the OR, Dr. Belanger & Dr. Onimus each did 1 surgery.
Tonight, we went to the most amazing restaurant called Abbucci. It is an Italian restaurant. The owner/chef was trained by Gordon Ramsey but he is Ethiopian, so he wanted to come back to Addis Ababa to open his restaurant. We have been eating here every year for the past 5 years. yum!! I must say I would LOVE to have a brisket taco right now!!
Friday May 24th, 2018
Today Dr. Belanger & Dr. Aucoin brought the 3 year old burn victim back to surgery to change her dressings again. She looks much better. I pray she stays that way!
Dr. Belanger then preformed a L1-L4 VCR/Corpectomy. The case was long and complicated, so he decided to stop and finish tomorrow.
I have now discharged 12 patients. I had a little baby doll so I wrapped its legs and abdomen with gauze just like the little burned girl. I then took it to her. She had never had a doll before so she didn’t really know what to think of it. She was turning it around and looking at every inch of it. She finally kissed it and laid it on her chest and smiled. I cried!
Saturday May 26th, 2018
Today Dr. Belanger & Dr. Onimus each had/have one surgery. Dr. Onimus, Walt, Dr. Aucoin, Philippe and Claudia, Dr. Onimus’ wife, and Berege’ the photographer have all left for the airport and are headed home.
It is currently 6:15pm and Dr. Belanger is still in the OR. He is doing the second half of the VCR patient from yesterday. It is a 4 level VCR. Very tedious. So far he has been in there 8 hours and will be finished in another 3 or so hours.
Tomorrow Sophia & her son Francisco leave to go back to Portugal. Sylvain will also be leaving to go back to France. Our team will then consist of Dr. Belanger, Spencer, Jason and myself. Final 4!
The hardest part of being alone at the end is there is no one to scrub in with Dr. Belanger except me and I am usually running back and forth between patients rooms and the OR. I do all the rounding, dressing changes, pulling drains, getting the patients out of bed and walking them, making sure they take their medicine and taking the photos of everyone. This all takes time and someone is constantly calling me to come downstairs to see our old post op patients.
Jason will be helping to do all this the rest of the week as I will be scrubbing into surgery with Dr. Belanger.
Tomorrow is Dr. Belanger & my 13 year wedding anniversary. For the last 8 years we have celebrated our anniversary here in Ethiopia. It is very special to the both of us. Tomorrow we will operate on 1 patient who is a 21 yr old female with a 110 degree curve of scoliosis.