Wednesday Mar. 01

By Daniel Galat, M.D., SIGN Surgeon at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya.

One night in December, two weeks into the national doctors’ strike in Kenya, and with cases stacking up for surgery, I received a phone call from one of the third year orthopaedic residents. “Dr. Galat, you won’t believe this but your resident, Dr. John Mandela, just injured his leg playing soccer,” he said. “He’s in casualty, and it looks like he has an open (compound) tibia fracture.”

While heading to the hospital to see Dr. John, I chuckled at the irony of operating on my only resident. “You just can’t make this stuff up,” I thought. At the same time I was thankful for the opportunity to help.

I found John in casualty with a bloody splint on his leg and, trying to lighten the mood, promptly informed him he was going to have to write all patient notes from his hospital bed.

Thankfully, we were able to take him to the operating room that same night to wash the open wound and stabilize the fracture using a SIGN Nail.

Between Tenwek and Kijabe hospitals, we have treated more than 3,000 patients using SIGN Implants. Now, one of our own trainees has received the very nail he is learning to use to heal others.

Recently, I saw Dr. John at the PAACS (Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons) Basic Science Conference, a two-week intensive course for 1st and 2nd year surgical residents from all over Africa. I was amazed to see him walking without a limp just six weeks from his date of surgery.

Without the SIGN Nail, he would have still been in a heavy plaster cast, walking with crutches, and struggling to get around.

As I watched him interacting and learning with the other 50 residents, I thanked God for this new generation of surgical trainees who are dedicating their lives to helping others in need. It is a privilege to be involved in the education of these young, bright, committed African trainees who will be part of the solution to the lack of surgical care in some of the world’s poorest places.

Dr. John will return to his training post at Kijabe next week, just two months from his injury. I told him he failed his rotation on the Galat service, and will have to remediate! Just kidding … we’ll all be glad to have him back.

You can learn more about Kijabe Hospital in our Field Report.

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