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Uganda Spine Mission

Uganda Spine Mission Day 5

By Erin Sadler

Day 5 – Finding Our Stride

Today was another day of surgery at both Mulago and Case Hospitals. The team at Mulago came up with a strategy the previous evening to try to circumvent the resistance of the Mulago staff from doing two cases in one day. We figured that we would tackle a shorter case first, so it would only be mid-morning upon completion, leaving lots of time to start a second longer case. This tactic worked, in addition to strong leadership from Liz, one of our surgical techs, and we had a very efficient and productive day with minimal setbacks or obstacles. It is very clear to see that as a team we are starting to find our stride, achieving an immense amount, with great outcomes, in a relatively short amount of time.

Across town at Case, things were a little bit more hectic. At Case, the other half of the team
were operating on a 12 year old boy with kyphoscoliosis, in addition to spina bifida occulta. After a difficult intubation, the procedure went on without complication until, much to the surprise of the team, the hospital’s oxygen supply ran out. Thanks to the prudent supervision from the anesthesia team, what could have been a potential disaster was averted, and thankfully the procedure was completed successfully. There was also a major display of “taking one for the team” from Jason, our neuromonitor. After questioning the signal he was receiving from the patient, he proceeded to hook up and shock himself to ensure the equipment was working properly. We were all very impressed and touched by his dedication to the well-being of the patient, at his own expense.

Izzy and Sister Rose

Just starting the surgery

Z our anesthesiologist


We once again all reconvened at the apartments in the early evening to share our respective experiences of the day. We then proceeded to dinner, at a ‘new’ restaurant that the previous missions hadn’t been to before. Upon arrival, the veterans on the team realized they had been here before for a wonderful reception dinner, and we were all pleasantly surprised by the ambiance and the great menu. Much like our previous evenings, we ate delicious food, drank a few glasses of wine, and shared many laughs around the table. There were several toasts made highlighting the great work of the team, especially those who have really stepped up and provided great leadership, poise in stressful situations, and selflessness in order to provide the best care possible to the patients.

Texas Back Institute