Body Parts – September 2010 Issue 21

ROUTINES ARE ALL VERY WELL but in the land of the unexpected… what can you expect? In the middle of the theatre list with Dr Dan, I was called to the radio. A 15yr old girl in a remote village had severe lower abdominal pain with fever, starting the day before. She wasn’t eating and the antibiotic injections weren’t helping. They were given by the translator-missionary staying there, because their health worker was away. She was even willing to pay for the flight out and be released from her responsibility.

Now a few days later she’s doing well. Another girl from her village, who was already here getting TB treatment, has taken her under her wing and I see them walking around together arm in arm.

After a few more radio calls with MAF, pilot Matt Painter abandoned his day off and got ready for Dehamo, about 20min flight from Rumginae. We
carried on with our surgery, wondering if in a few hours we’d be back in
theatre again.

Our plane returned in the late afternoon and the girl was lifted down on a stretcher and taken across to the hospital with her father. I quickly went home for a early dinner, leaving the nursing staff to do their assessment and admission. It’s always good to eat when you get the opportunity! The other missionaries on the station were keen to know if the doctors would be in theatre for the evening, because it was our Bible-study night. If the three doctors were out, we should probably cancel.

One of the community health worker students was doing the admission so it
took a long time. The history was asked in english by the student, translated to Aekyom by the supervising staff, then translated again by the father to the daughter in the language of their household. And the answers came back the same painstaking way. Finally I heard more of her story and got to assess her myself.

She’d had two days of vomiting and diarrhoea, fever and abdominal pain. The abdomen was rather tender. We tried to get some blood tests, but the machine wasn’t working. Appendicitis was a definite possibility, but did we need to do something about it that night? I called Dr Dan for a second opinion and then we called Dr Addy (also on her day off) for a third. Why not make use of everyone!

Eventually it was decided: call off the Bible Study and go to theatre when a few more staff arrive on the evening shift. After a discussion of preferences I did the anaesthetic and Dan assisted Addy in the surgery. Just as well we did it. We found her belly had plenty of pus and a rather raw-looking appendix. And I’ve had another lesson how to do appendicectomy.

Look back at the organisations involved in this. Christian Radio Mission Fellowship looks after the radio network and their controller made that first contact with us. The SIL missionary treated and made a timely request for help. Mission Aviation Fellowship transported her. The Evangelical Church of PNG Health Service at Rumginae provided her final treatment. And Pioneers supplies the doctors.

“It’s good to be able to help people like this,” Dan said to me as we walked out of the hospital in the dark.

“That’s the body of Christ,” Addy added.

From Sharon Brandon


Oh the difficulties of a nose that keeps bleeding and the prospect of incurable cancer! Andy has cancer again in his nose and he’s my brother from the family I stayed with last year.

It’s so sad to treat him and see him in the ward getting blood transfusions and chemo that makes him feel like he’s dying. He doesn’t want to listen to all the relatives who are blaming various people or spirits or sins for the sickness, but I’m not clear he has put his faith in God. Pray that this test of allegiance will prove him faithful.

Comings and Goings

Praise the Lord for Dr Dan rejoining the team at Rumginae. It’s his last term. One of his three children is approaching high school age, so they finish at the end of 2011. We have a short time of three doctors before Addy goes on home assignment in October 2010. She’ll come back, then I’ll be off for my turn home – around August 2011. Join us in praying for another longterm doctor.

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