Sunday, May 11, 2014

Kenya - Medical Mercy

Overcoming obstacles. That is the theme for the upcoming trip to Kenya. We leave next Friday, a team of 23. We will be joined by 15 Kenyan healthcare workers who I trained several years ago and who have been caring for the children since then. Making a difference – sustainable care. So why this theme? We are all faced with obstacles in our life that we try to overcome or sometimes we just can’t and find another way to get to where we want to go. This trip to Kenya has posed several obstacles, but we have prevailed. But just this week, I realized that there is one obstacle that we will face that I pray we are up to the task for. I have been on clinical service in the pediatric critical care unit and have been taking care of children who are on the edge of life. Traumatic brain injuries, cancer, life threatening infections, and more. One child struck me as I wondered how we will deal with the similar situation if we come across it in Kenya. This little boy had a very devastating kidney disease requiring both his kidneys to be removed, living on dialysis for several years. He was on the transplant list for a kidney, but as you know, that list is long and kidneys are hard to come by. Then as a last resort, his mother asked if she could be tested to see if her kidney would be compatible. You would thing that being his mother there would be no question that the kidney would be a match, but what many do not know  is that the compatibility factors are many and that the chances of a mother having a kidney that would be compatible with her son marginal at best. Well, her kidney matched. This little boy received his mother's right kidney, and is on his way to living a normal  life again, gifted by his mother, done in a healthcare system that has the technology and services to make this happen. So here is the question and the obstacle. Could this ever happen in Kenya and what would we do, what will we do, if we come up with something like this there? Sustainable care? Yes, but to a limit. Dialysis in Kenya is marginal and hard to come by. Kidney transplants are rare. And remember, we are talking about a population that is remotely isolated from advanced services of all kinds, if we can even call the services available “advanced”. An obstacle like this, of a Kenyan child who needs a kidney and a mother who would donate her own, will not have the same outcome as what the little boy in Phoenix had. We hope not be faced with something like this, but it can happen all the same. I leave you to think about how you would deal with a scenario like this. The team will be faced with many obstacles as we serve those who come to us; the inability to deliver needed medical care because of lack of resources through no fault of our own for example. If you want, follow us as I blog daily (as much as I can depending on internet service), and see how we face what is given us. I can give you an idea of how we will: faith and trust in God, perseverance, kindness and servitude. 

In all things give thanks,