Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Uganda Spine Surgery Mission 2019 – Day 7

Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

August 15, 2019

Day 7


We are all starting to feel the long days and late nights catching up to us. Each day people wake up a tiny bit later, get ready a tiny bit quicker, eat a tiny bit faster. All to be out the door at 7:30am. Today was no exception. After eating breakfast (I learned to load up on the eggs and potatoes before we leave so that I am good and full), we jumped in the bus and headed to the hospital.


We’ve gotten in a solid rhythm in the mornings—Kayanja and I to clinic, Dr. Schaffer to round, and Jason, Ashlee, Sherron, and Teisha to setting up. Already when we walked in, there was a line of patients outside of the operating wing, waiting to be seen by Dr. Kayanja in clinic. Dr. Kayanja and I quickly assumed our positions at the make-shift clinic (aka the front desk area). We got our tally up to 104 patients seen for in clinic this week. At the same time, Nathaniel went to round on our patients from the first and second days of surgery. We were seeing positive results, so we were glad to hear that.


Our first hiccup of the day happened when the hospital staff brought us the wrong patient for the first case. That resulted in a delay of starting our cases for the day. Our first surgery ended up being an L3-4 and L4-5 decompression and fusion, which ended up being a doozy. The surgeons had difficulty with retraction and visibility and extra imaging equipment had to be brought in to assist with parts of the case. It was a long and difficult case, clocking it at around 8 hours long.


Drs. Kayanja and Schaffer taking a step back from the operating table during

our complicated first case in order to examine the patients’ films.



Drs. Kayanja, Schaffer, and Kisitu looking at the x-ray that

was snapped during the surgery and discussing their next steps.



It was all hands on deck for this case!


When we finally wrapped up this case, it was almost 6:00pm. That meant we definitely weren’t going to get through the five planned cases today and would need to bump some to tomorrow. But we were still going to work as hard as we could to get as many done as possible! We did two more cases: a decompression and an ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion). making for a very late night. The ACDF surgery finished around 11:00pm. Then it was off to finish the two-level decompression that Dr. Schaffer and Dr. Natasha had started next door. Meaning we were for sure in for a late night.


We wrapped up at the hospital shortly after 12:00am. It was straight to bed for everyone so we would be as fresh as possible for our last three surgeries tomorrow. Even though it was a difficult day, the team did their best to keep spirits up and keep each other energized. Everyone stepped in where they were needed and went above and beyond to help each other out. Afterall, we are all here for the patients! It was a perfect example of teamwork in action!

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