Keep A Baby Warm!
An opportunity to protect babies who need surgery at Tenwek
Babies get cold. A simple fact of life that most of us know and therefore give some attention to keeping them wrapped up and warm. We can't do that as easily in the OR. We need them exposed and worse - we get them wet to some degree while operating. Another fact of life.
However, getting cold (hypothermic) is a real problem. It can impair the ability of a person to stop bleeding along with other medical issues. And babies are particularly susceptible due to several factors (body surface area, thickness of their skin, lack of fat...).
So at Tenwek we have been using this radiant warmer to keep babies warm while operating on them (see above photo). But it isn't a great strategy. Picture me ducking my head under the warmer and then operating on a baby's delicate structures for an hour or two or three. Not an ideal position for a surgeon to do his or her best work on an infant or premie. Then notice that my head and upper body is between the warming element and the baby down below. Not much heat gets to the baby, but the surgeon and assistant get their heads scorched! Another distraction for the surgical team and a risk for the baby to get hypothermia.
Seeing the same "baby warmer" in OR#1 upon my arrival, I decided we needed to do something better for our most fragile and at-risk patients. So after looking and looking, we found a brand new device which is reusable and should last quite a while. It consists of a gel pad (see below; replaced more frequently than the main unit; ~ every 3 years) which the baby lays on while a machine on the floor pumps warm water through it. It is very carefully regulated so the baby can't be burned. And the gel pad is very safe for the baby's skin to avoid any injury. One simply lays it on a regular operating table and sets the temperature. Leaving the surgical team to stand up straight and sweat a whole lot less!
Knowing how important it was for our kids here, I did something unusual and went ahead and bought it this week before raising any funds for it. If anyone would like to help Julie and I provide this excellent care for our little ones, please do so through our regular donation methods (wgm.org/ganey). If you send us a quick email, we will make sure it goes toward the purchase. CSZ and Ben Sage have given us a good price on the new unit - $4,446.73 with a couple of extras thrown in.
May this new device help provide quality care and demonstrate in a small way how God cares for these kids.
Mike and Julie
One of the things that I am SO excited to be involved in while we're here is a group called Tabitha. It started many years ago as a small bible study on Wednesday mornings with just a couple of women. It has grown into hundreds of women, studying God's Word, all over the country side near Tenwek. One of the small group leaders travels on a bodaboda (motorcycle) for two hours to get to Tenwek to get the bible study and then takes it back to teach it to the women in her area. Amazing, right? These are the women I talked a lot about back in the US before we came.
Besides studying the bible, Tabitha also helps women in the community with new mud houses, dairy cows and seed distribution. My mom, Eden and I were invited to help with one of the house muddings before my mom left for the US. A lot of the community came out to help and watch all the activity. There was a local school on the land right next to where we were mudding the house, so we had a really big audience. We were told it was a historic mudding as well, since some of the men in the community, including the local pastor rolled up their sleeves and pant legs and helped with the work. They laughed at the end of the day saying, "This is usually women's work, but now we have seen that men can do it too."
When we got there, the wood structure was already built. The grass around the house was all dug up. Then water was added to the dirt in the ground and the mixing began...with our bare feet. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work.
The house being mudded was for Christine. She has nine children, six of whom are still living, and over a hundred grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This mama was so gracious, busily cooking food and making chai for us and the elders of the community that came out for the event. This was the only time she sat down for whole day.
It was great to see the people of this community rally around Christine and help build her a new house. We enjoyed the chance to see the love of Jesus working in this area and being able to be part of it in a small way.
Mike (pediatric surgeon) and Julie (nurse/mother to two) living in Kenya, East Africa