Coming in over Adis Abeba and Kilimanjaro International Airport, there was still a seven-hour-trip by Landcuiser to reach our final destination, the Hospital of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Puma.
The sisters run a big place with agricultural and livestock farming. The proceeds serve to supply medical help and among other things the upkeep and schooling of orphans.
About 400 people are supposed to have found jobs on the farm or being taken care of in some way.
As guests of the Siebenbürgen Section of INTERPLAST, which had equipped the operating theaters of the hospital in a very functional way, our small team - Dr. Andreas Schmidt (reconstructive surgeon), Dr. Hannes Schmidt (orthopedic surgeon) and Dr. Klaus Huslik (anesthetist) – were able to perform some rather complex surgical procedures.
Among them was a second operation to restore the face of a young woman, who had been attacked by a hyena thereby being horribly disfiguered.
Another case was a young boy, whose mandible and right arm had been fixed to the chest by contractures after severe burns of the upper body.
Burns in childhood seemed to be quite common, since most of the cooking is still done on open fire.
Personally I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the anaesthetics team of the Siebenbürgen Section of INTERPLAST, whose support in difficult situations was priceless.
Principally the patients are catered for by their relatives.
They cook, take care of the children and most of the patients who can move are sitting outside in the shade of trees or inside on their beds.
Especially in the pediatric ward it is very colorful and sometimes noisy.
Next to the unbelievable landscape I was most impressed by the cordiality and friendliness of sisters, nurses and and employees.
In the face of this, who would really want to complain about long flights and car trips, blackouts or lack of running water, heat, mosquitos or small troubles, when you are welcomed and waved good-bye to by children with songs, dances and flowers ?
On the way back to the airport we had the opportunity to spend one night at Tarangire National Park.
Despite the short time, we could still see a lot of animals in the wild, which you normally would only admire in a zoo, like elephants, giraffes, zebras, gnus, monkeys, hyenas, kudus and some birds.
It was my first time to Africa as anesthetist, giving me a lot of new insights. My most important lesson was that you can do a lot of things with very little resources.
When you cannot take your normal equipment for granted, start improvising.
Another mission to Tanzania in October/November 2013 brought our INTERPLAST- team- Dr. Andreas Schmidt (plastic surgeon), - Dr. Hannes Schmidt (orthopedic surgeon), - Dr. Dieter Baumann (orthopedist), - Dr. Klaus Huslik (anesthetist), to Matema Lutheran Hospital on the northern shore of Lake Njassa (=Lake Malawi) and also to Ilembula Lutheran Hospital in the district of Iringa. It was also a fact-finding tour in as much as INTERPLAST wanted to find out if a collaboration with these hospitals on a long term basis was feasible or reasonable.