I discharged Abraham and lucky today. Abraham is seven. Lucky is about the same age. Both had congenital hernias repaired.
Yesterday I observed their surgeries. Abraham's took 20 minutes. Lucky's took ten. In a total of 1/2 hour's time, years of hardship, suffering, discrimination, immobility, sickness, and rejection were voided.
In 1/2 hours time the course of two lives were drastically altered.
The simplicity of the situation struck me (not that surgery is in any way simple..perhaps it's just that Dr. Bruce, the general surgeon on board, makes it look simple). We took the patient to the OR. We put them to sleep. We intubated. We cut. We repaired. We sutured. We woke them up. We sent them to the recovery room. We sent them to the ward. We discharged them.
Done. Problem solved. No growing up in pain. No becoming noticeably disfigured. No worries about developing a necrotic bowel.
The cycle completed in about 48 hours. A modern miracle.
Dr. Bruce could do hundreds of hernia repairs in a few weeks time. The lives of hundreds of children could be changed.
But human beings have limits; and resources are not unending.
The OR and Wards are short nurses (so if you are a nurse, maybe you should come :). We only have a certain amount of beds. There is only so much you can do.
Liberia has no health care. Everyday hundreds of people are dieing from very treatable things. Like dental infections. Unclean water. Malnutrition. Malaria. Curable forms of cancer. But that's what happens when you live in a country where there is 1 doctor for every 28,000 and less then 5 dentists nationwide.
You die early and unnecessarily. It's just the way it is.
But it shouldn't be. It's hard to believe it still is.
How do you chose to help and when to help when everyone needs help? When people are dying because they can't afford to pay 15$ for a three month supply of life saving medication or because the cost free system in place is too corrupted to provide it.
I don't know.