Monday, March 2, 2009


Last week was one of the busiest weeks I've had here in Macha. Part of the busyness was because several visitors came to Macha. First was a Nobel Laureate named Peter Agre who is the head of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI) with which Malaria Institute at Macha (MIAM) is affiliated. On Monday afternoon we were all invited to a lecture at the MIAM campus and enjoyed Dr. Agre's lighthearted account of his humble roots in North Dakota and his serendipitous discovery of the "Aquaporin" water channel molecules which lead to a momentous call from Stockholm. Woven throughout was a message of the importance of education, research and discovery and a call to young Zambian researchers to work hard and make the most of opportunities they have.

Wednesday evening I was called to assist with a C-section at 1:30 in the morning. Because the woman was somewhat unstable it took a while. The baby (2nd twin) was not alive when delivered, but the mother eventually recovered and has been doing fine. I went back to bed around 4am.

Later in the week a team, led by the British orthopaedic surgeon Allan Norrish (Cure International), came to evaluate and treat the patients we thought could most benefit from such a specialist. Thursday afternoon they saw at least 50 patients and scheduled ten relatively major operations and about the same number of minor procedures for the next day. Some were asked to travel to Lusaka where they would undergo free hip replacements or other procedures. On Friday more patients were added to the list as needs arose (e.g. patients from OPD) and a fairly solid 14 hours were spent in the operating theatre. (The day also included a laparotomy and bowel resection by Dr. Spurrier for a man with necrotic bowel and a symphysiotomy for a woman in labor whose pelvis was too small for the baby's head). It was a busy end to a busy week, but I felt like I saw and learned a lot. I'll try to post some pictures soon.

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