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Reflecting on God as the Great Physician, Part 1

I like to keep track of all the different procedures I have done here in Ghana as well as write about interesting patient cases that I have seen and been a part of managing here at Baptist Medical Centre. I was reading through a few of the cases today, and it reminded me of how much God has shown Himself present during each of them. I am not an emotional person typically, but recalling His intervention in the lives of so many patients at our hospital brings tears to my eyes. I would like to recount a few of the patient stories over the past 1-2 years in this blog post.

There was one lady who had had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and was bleeding heavily inside her abdomen. She had surgery performed, which went well. The problem then arose after the surgery when she was receiving a donated unit of blood, and she had a rare severe reaction to the blood, causing respiratory failure (her lungs were shutting down). The oxygen level in her body was 30% on the maximum oxygen we could give her. I tried calling the nearest referral center- about 3 hour drive away- and they said they had ventilators, but there were no doctors to manage them at that time. The next closest referral hospital was about a 9-hour drive away—she would never make it that far. I sat down with the brother and explained the poor prognosis and then prayed with him and for the patient. After doing everything we could for her here at BMC, I left the hospital to go home and sleep. First thing the next day, I went to Female Ward to check on her and there was a new patient in her bed- exactly what I had expected, she had died overnight. Then one of the nurses asked me, “Are you looking for the lady that was in this bed before?”, and then she pointed over to another bed, “She’s over there”. The lady was sitting up in bed, no oxygen in place, eating an orange, and the oxygen level in her blood was in the upper 90s. God miraculously healed this woman, and He deserves all the praise for it!

From the end of June through mid-August last year, I was the primary rounding doctor on Female Ward and Isolation Ward. There are a lot of wounds in Isolation Ward, and there is a lot of necrotizing fasciitis (an infection of the layer of tissue just above the muscle and below the skin layers, which spreads quickly), often requiring multiple debridements (removal of dead tissue) for the same patient. I spent countless hours (I counted 30 debridements alone during this time for necrotizing fasciitis in my procedure log) removing dead tissue from patients’ bodies, mostly extremities, and leaving them with large open wounds. God has designed our bodies so amazingly that many times, these patients do well and the wounds heal. He has also made it possible for us to take skin from one part of the body and put it on an open wound in another part of the body (known as a skin graft) so that the large open wounds can heal faster. This just reminds me of our Creator’s creativity. Necrotizing fasciitis and its management also reminds me of the Gospel:

1)      The infection is like sin (often hidden under the surface, but comes to light when it grows out of control, and leads to death of the person if left unchecked/untreated)- every man and woman’s problem in this world.

2)      The infection cannot be controlled by the body itself, despite how hard it works to fight it. It requires that someone else come and remove the infection for it- AKA Jesus dying on the cross so that our sins can be removed if we believe in Him.

3)      Doing a skin graft on the clean, open wound (AKA believers in Christ who have opened their hearts to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and have therefore been made clean) is like Jesus giving us the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21- “For our sake He made Him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.”). Jesus came from His perfect home (heaven; AKA donor site for the skin graft), covered us with His righteousness (recipient site for the skin graft) to help us look more like Him in time.

Not all women here deliver in the hospital. In fact, many of them deliver at home. Sometimes, these women have complications that force them to visit a hospital for care. One of these complications is that placental parts remain inside the uterus after delivery, which commonly leads to severe anemia from excessive bleeding as well as infection. In a one-week period of time in November last year, there were 3 women who came in with severe anemia, 2 of them septic. All of them had already received blood transfusions at outside facilities before coming to BMC. Two of them delivered 5 days ago at home, and one of them delivered 12 days ago by C-section at another hospital. All of them needed two uterine curettages each (scraping out the retained placental tissue that is inside the uterus), two of them were too unstable for the first procedure to receive anesthesia, and all of them had to have their first procedure stopped early because of excessive bleeding. By God’s grace, each one of them survived and recovered fully.

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