I just returned recently from WA, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana, with our Nigerian neurosurgery team joining us in Liberia. What a wonderful time we had and what a lot of genuine West Africans, giving their lives for their people.
The following few blog posts are from my heart, and will give you a snapshot picture of what is transpiring.
I met doctors that have stayed through thick and thin; I mean, through more than a decade of civil war. One is the only obstetrician for the entire country of Sierra Leone, Dr. Koroma. Many moms and babies are dying in his unit, as they come in crisis from midwives care and are already in mortal danger and collapse when they arrive. I watched pregnant moms lying on stretchers in the hallway, awaiting emergent surgery and I held one young girl in my arms and prayed with her, as she laid there frightened.
Another incredible doctor is a urologist, who is also the CEO of the national hospital, Dr. Kamara. He is also working with scant resources. They were scrubbing down the operating rooms and area, cleaning them up while renovating the OR. The children’s ward had been recently painted with beautiful paintings of children and Disney characters on the walls. They were so appreciative of any support we could provide. I had baby and children’s clothes and bibs and shoes to hand over.
I found that the staff at the hotel and around the country don’t smile often. They are very solemn. I encouraged them for the week I was there and by the time I left, the staff were beaming smiles and I was given an opportunity to teach the staff on the value of smiling and serving with their heart.
There are areas that we can help outside neuroscience, including documentation developments for their hospitals, that the doctors were saying, could save lives. (In many situations, there is no medical intervention; it’s just not available. Babies struggling with neurological crises including hydrocephalus and spina bifida are just cared for palliatively as there are no neurosurgeons to address their needs for shunts, etc.) Hopefully, we will be able to have a neurosurgery team visit in the next year or two. They are hoping for my return asap!
Please click here to see additional images from the Sierra Leone portion of the mission trip.