Thursday, July 9, 2020

The New Theatre is Operational

     Twenty months after breaking ground on our new Operating Theatre expansion project, we have finally moved in and started operating in the new building!

The new building houses two new operating rooms, a larger and improved central supply/ sterilization department with a new autoclave to sterilize instruments, and a new centrally located sterile stock room.

We have transitioned to working out of this space temporarily while our old building is renovated. Once all the construction is complete. We will have a total of 4 operating rooms as well as a new minor procedure room, pre-op and recovery rooms, and a conference room for teaching.

This week we performed our first cases in the new theatre. We are still adjusting to the new, temporary arrangement, but we are thankful for God's provision.  A huge thank you to AusAid Incentive Fund and all the many individuals who have helped make this dream a reality.

Below is a video of the move-in and first day operating.

Saturday, April 25, 2020



Dr. Mark and Dr. Alex attend to patient with
near amputation of the hand.
Twenty-two. TWENTY-TWO. Twenty-two surgical procedures in the past FIVE days. To say that I am exhausted is a bit of an understatement. We are only scheduling 2-3 elective cases on each surgery day (Tuesdays and Thursdays), but the number of urgent and emergent cases seemed to explode this week, filling every day of my schedule and pouring over into next week. Appendicitis, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, small bowel obstructions, abscess in the chest, abscess in the abdomen, abscess in the leg, and so, so many traumas: Stab to the back, chop to the upper arm, chop to the lower arm, partial hand amputation, gunshot to the bladder, gunshot to the neck. Of all the cases I treat, trauma is by far the most physically and emotionally draining. Most people can’t control when an infection will occur, but violence is preventable.  Why do tribes perpetuate the age-old feuds? Why do husbands abuse their wives? Why all the fighting and violence? Some days, I feel like the biblical prophet, Habakkuk, crying out, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help....Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habbakuk 1:2-3). It is easy to become discouraged or angry as we labor to piece together broken bodies and broken lives. But when the huge tidal wave of traumas comes during an already busy week, it is simply overwhelming.

Thankfully, our prayers do not fall on deaf ears. On Thursday, when I had about hit the wall, one of our leaders at prayer meeting shared from 2 Kings 6. This is the story of Elisha, a man of God who is surrounded by enemy forces. Starting in verse 15:

 “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked. 
‘Don’t be afraid, ‘ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”


             Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And in that moment, during prayer meeting, God opened my eyes to see that we are not struggling against flesh and blood. As much as I despise those who inflict physical injuries on others, they are not my enemies. This is a spiritual battle. The forces of evil, agents of darkness, pain, and destruction, are engaged in an epic war against God’s army of light.   But those who are with us are more than those who are with them.  As my fellow missionaries prayed over me, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders, and the presence of God enveloped me with his assurance and peace.  And once more I was overwhelmed... overwhelmed by the presence of God and his angels of light standing guard over us. 
             Please continue to pray for the hearts of the people here in Papua New Guinea and around the world who are gripped by fear and darkness. Pray for God’s light to break through. Pray that they may be overwhelmed by the presence and peace of God. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Life Changing Surgery

Anton, pre-op

        All surgeries are life-changing, some are even life-saving, but very rarely is the result so visibly obvious as it was in one of our recent patients. Anton had been admitted to the hospital many, many times in his 8 years of life. Every time he was treated for stomach pains, gastrointestinal infections, and malnutrition. He would improve enough to go home, but would return again within a few months to repeat the cycle.  On his most recent admission, he started to manifest symptoms of intestinal obstruction, so our surgery team was consulted to evaluate him. At a mere 16 pounds, he was so emaciated by his chronic illness, that Dr. Ben and I were doubtful he would survive surgery, let alone benefit from it. But without surgery he would surely die, so we took him to theater praying that we would find something that we could do to help him. 
        To our amazement, we discovered that he had malrotation with chronic volvulus, a congenital condition in which the intestines don’t form in the proper position or with the proper attachments inside the abdomen. This allows the intestines to twist around their blood supply leading to obstruction and ischemia. He had been intermittently obstructing for the past several years! Now the intestines were so twisted that a portion had become ischemic and died, leading to his current presentation. We were able to untwist his intestines, remove the dead portion and reconnect what remained, but we were still worried that he might not survive in his severely malnourished state. By God's grace, Anton recovered faster than we could have hoped. He was eating within a week of surgery and has steadily gained weight over the past month. When I saw him in clinic for follow-up, I didn’t even recognize him as the same kid we had operated on! His hair is growing, his face is fuller and he now has the strength to walk on his own! I praise God for saving and changing Anton’s life in such a dramatic way. I know God has big plans in store for this growing boy.  
1 Month post-op. Is that even the same kid?!