Dr. Sawyer in Papua New Guinea.

Dr. Sawyer in Papua New Guinea.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weights and measures...

Several months ago we asked the doctors at Kudjip Hospital if there was anything that they needed.  One of the things that they needed was an accurate battery powered pediatric scale that  weighed in kilograms.  We used some of the money that had been donated by our church, Palmcroft Baptist Church, to purchase this scale.  We were so happy to see that it made it in perfect condition in our luggage.  This was the little girl that had been screened by Dr. Kirk Milhoan (see earlier blog) and she was very willing to demonstrate how to stand still on the scale while being weighed.

This scale will be used by the clinic, the emergency room, the newborn nursery, and labor and delivery, and each of these facilities are only a few steps away from the room where the scale is located.  The prior scale was one of the old fashioned counter-weight scale that only weighed in pounds.  The charts on the wall behind the little girl are the conversion charts from pounds to kilograms, but this was a source of potential error.  The doctors, clinic staff and nurses were so excited about this new scale and everyone said to say "thank you" to our church for donating the scale.

Eight pound tumor...

The needs here in Papua New Guinea are overwhelming at times.  This morning I removed an 8 pound tumor from this lovely 17 year old girl.  She had shared with me the day before the surgery that she regularly went to church, but had never trusted God with her life before.  This morning, in the pre-op area, the operating room staff met with her and prayed with her and she committed her life to God.

The amount of disease here, and the advanced state of disease, can be a bit overwhelming.  One of my primary areas of focus at the hospital this time is to teach a PNG physician-in-training (called a registrar) as much as I can.  Her name is Imelda, and she goes by the name, "Dr. Mel."  I have been making rounds with her and she has been assisting me in surgery.

We will be leaving for the Hewa Tribe in the Enga province one week from today  This Sunday we will be meeting with the team and plotting out our schedule for teaching Village Childbirth Attendant (VCA) class, running a small medical clinic, and doing dental extractions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dr. Kirk...

Dr. Kirk Milhoan is a pediatric cardiologist who recently was featured in a documentary called Three Hearts.  He arrived at Kudip this morning after traveling all night on airplanes for the last two nights, flying in from the Middle East, and by the afternoon was already doing pediatric echocardiograms on children who have heart defects.  The last patient he saw this afternoon is pictured in this photograph.  She is five years old and has tricuspid atresia, which is an inoperable heart defect with a life expectancy of around 30 years.  

At the moment that this photograph was taken, Dr. Kirk was explaining to the family that the heart defect is inoperable and that their little girl has a life expectancy of 30 years.  He then gently went on to explain that God also used the life of a man named Jesus to change the world, and he lived to be just a little over thirty years old.  The gentle and loving way that he counseled these parents about their precious little girl was the finest I have ever witnessed by a physician.  The caliber of physicians who come to Kudjip and the full time physicians who work here are an amazingly talented group of dedicated individuals.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rondon Ridge...

On Sunday afternoon the hospital was quiet and we had the chance to escape to visit an orchid garden at Rondon Ridge up on the side of a mountain outside of Mount Hagen.  Our friends, the Dooley family, took us all on the outing.  We finally feel as if we are getting adjusted to the right time zone.  I had been up the night before delivering a baby for one of the midwives and then at midnight did an emergency cesarean section for a patient who came into the hospital in labor with a breech baby.  In spite of being up half the night, I still felt up to going up to Rondon Ridge.

One of the hardest things and yet one of the most interesting things here is the advanced state of disease compared to what we see in Arizona.  Today I saw about forty patients between the hospital and the clinic, and in just those forty patients I saw a patient with advanced stage cervical cancer, a 17 year old girl with a ten pound ovarian tumor, and, sadly, two women whose babies were not alive when I did their ultrasounds.  One of these had been in a car accident a few days ago and the surgeon had to repair a lacerated liver.  She is twenty weeks pregnant, and when I looked with the ultrasound this morning, there was no fetal heart beat.  Then later in the day a woman came in at seven months into her pregnancy and had not felt the baby move for two weeks.  The ultrasound revealed that there was extensive hydropic change (fluid overload) and there was no heart beat.  As I prayed for the second woman after explaining what had happened, her demeanor changed from being cold to having tears stream down her face.  All of these things happened in such a short amount of time.  It is all a bit overwhelming.  

Thank you all for reading the blog.   Glaciers move faster than the internet speeds in Papua New Guinea, and I am very happy that I was finally able to post a blog for you to see.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On our way...

Back left to right: Andrew Sawyer, Lindsey Brass, Michael Sawyer
Front left to right: Amber Sawyer, Anna Sawyer
15 pieces of checked luggage, 14 carry-on bags
One pair of crutches.
Look out PNG!
Here we come!
After nearly a year of planning, we are finally under way to Papua New Guinea.  The photograph below is of the screen on the seat in front of me on the thirteen hour flight to Brisbane, Australia.  We cleared customs, showered and will be boarding our flight to Port Moresby in less than an hour.  Thank you all for your prayers and support.