Day 1: August 17, 2018

As the plane landed in Lilongwe, Malawi I felt every emotion, especially pure excitement.  Walking down the steps of the plane, looking across to the airport buildings, I spotted the Access Health Africa sign hanging from the banister and saw the AHA Fellows waving. Finding 6 large duffel bags of medical supplies and 3 small suitcases amongst 300 people’s luggage was actually much easier than I thought. All bags were present and accounted for so off to the customs officer to have the bags checked.  We were extremely blessed they didn’t confiscate any of our bags.  We had two very friendly ladies, Carolyn and Angela, waiting on us from Access Health Africa to welcome us and take us to the house.  After loading all the bags on top of a 15 passenger van we headed to the house.  It was a 30 min ride on the opposite side of the road and CRAZY driving but we made it safely.  We spent the next hour or so unloading and organizing all the things we needed to make our week doing surgery a success. We took a trip to the grocery store to purchase snacks.  I was amazed that the grocery store was not much different from the ones in the US.  Great pizza was served from a local Malawi pizza restaurant.  We were advised to stay awake until 9:00 so we would be able to sleep all night due to the time difference.  So after checking in back home I took one of the hottest showers I have ever had and go into my bed surrounded by the mosquito net and fell asleep.

 

Day 2: August 18, 2018

The alarm goes off at 7:30 and it’s time to start day 2.  After everyone fixed themselves breakfast and got dressed we left for Kabudula Hospital.  It was a 45-minute drive, and a CRAZY one.  Some of the road is paved, some are not. On the drive we did get to see different villages where the homes were built of self-made bricks and mostly straw roofs.  After arriving to Kabudula hospital we started the pre-op process.  We split up into vitals, anesthesia approval, examination by the doctor, and surveys.  After having their vitals and anesthesia work up, Dr. Henson and Dr. Martin did an exam and decided if the patient was eligible for surgery.  We saw 18 patients and scheduled 15 for surgery, a very successful day.

 

Day 3: August 19, 2018

In the morning, we packed the van with enough supplies to accomplish 2 days of surgery and headed to Kabudula Hospital to pre-op more patients.  We saw 19 patients but scheduled 15 for surgery.  Some of us went to the maternity ward to see if there were any patients in labor.  Its not like laboring at home.  These ladies are lying on a cement floor in active labor and not making a sound.  After they get to a certain point in labor they are moved to the delivery room where they lay on a delivery bed but it is far from the luxury beds in the US.  There is one nurse to take care of the laboring mother and the baby.  She is responsible for all laboring patients.  Today there were 3 in labor and 2 in active labor.  We also went to the pediatric ward.  There were 12 patients.  It is the family’s responsibility to take care of their child while at the hospital. After setting up the OR for our day tomorrow we headed back to the house.  Tomorrow we have planned for 8+ surgeries, wish us luck!

 

Thank you to our wonderful surgical tech, Tyra for writing this blog!