Wednesday, August 15, 2007

PNG Medcaps

Hello everyone. Sorry for the delay in getting information out, but it has been so busy here. So we have been floating out near Madang PNG and doing plenty of good things out here. I was down helping out with surgeries the first couple of days. Most of the surgeries were hernia repairs and lipoma removals. I was able to help out with the anesthesia. One of the CRNAs I was working with let me run a few of the cases myself…of coarse with some guidance though. It was fun, but really busy. I was able to get some good practice and experience.

So the medcaps here have seemed surreal. I feel like I was transported to a national geographic magazine. This is a pic of us landing in Joesephstal which was a 30 minute helo ride up into a very remote village in PNG. When we arrived there were people all around us and most of them had never seen outsiders before. They were super friendly and even though several of them carried machetes around, I always felt really safe.
The medcap missions went very well. We saw a large number of patients and they were very appreciative.

One patient in particular grabbed my attention. She was a 7 year old girl who developed a knee injury one month ago.

As you can see her knee is eroded away and she had trouble bending it now. Her father carried her for 5 hours by foot through the jungle terrain just to make it to our medcap site. At the time we didn’t know her diagnosis, but we wanted to get her help. We were able to arrange a helo flight to the Madang General Hospital.

Here is a pic of her being transported. Her father was extremely appreciative and I was really happy that we helped her out. Upon return to the ship I did some reading and found out she had Mycobacterium ulcerans. It is treated through surgery and IV meds so taking her to the hospital should help. The US is picking up the tab for her treatment costs which is great. She was a trooper through the whole process. Can you imagine first having a medical injury like this, seeing a bunch of new different strangers, and then having to get on the largest helicopter in the world and fly away from everything normal that she was accustomed to? Simply amazing! I hope she does well!

We saw lots of interesting skin diseases including a common fungal infection. Due to the moistness of the jungle and the abundance of this fungus in the soil, many people have this painless fungal disease. It isn’t dangerous at all, but they didn’t like the looks of it. This child has it all over his body and you can probably see it on his face. The call it Pupa and it is easier treated with creams and sometimes pills.

The translators we had were great. They were from Madang volunteering and their English was great. Overall it was a great mission. Here are some pics of us leaving. All of the children actually helped us carry chairs and boxes down to the launch site. It was a blast.

I was Officer in charge of the next medcap 2 days later and I have some pretty amazing stories from that. I’ll try to place them by tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by again!

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