It was a sunny morning shortly after Zambia celebrated fifty years of independence. Dr Bruce Bvulani waited on the airfield with Doctors Craig and Rae Oranmore-Brown of Mercy Fliers (partner organisation with Flying Mission Zambia) whilst baggage was stowed and pre-flight checks done.
Craig continues: after a pleasant and uneventful flight, we arrived at Mukinge and got to work. The late morning was spent seeing patients and making a rather ambitious surgery list for the visit. We started operating that afternoon.
The first case was an emergency: a child born with part of the small bowel not properly formed, causing the bowel to be obstructed. The infant was just 2 days old. The procedure took longer than planned, and we found the bowel had actually ruptured – not a good thing to happen. We removed the bowel segment that was affected and joined healthy segments together.
The procedure went reasonably well but we had no ‘high tech’ unit to support her after the procedure, so we could only keep her warm whilst giving her oxygen, antibiotics and intravenous fluids.
The next morning, we did a quick round, checking on the patients already operated on before starting the day in theatre. Our baby had made it through the night but she was short of breath and sadly she died later that morning.
We had a long day in theatre: our complex cases included a repair of a congenital malformation of the anus and major abdominal surgery which involved draining a huge cyst on the pancreas. Smaller procedures included hernia repairs, excision of a branchial fistula and some biopsies. The day finished at 11:00 pm.
We squeezed in a couple of cases after the ward round the next day and returned to Lusaka that afternoon. All our patients did well, aside from the poor baby operated on the first day and the hospital is very keen for us to come back in a couple of months.