A Shuka, A Goat and Two Chickens

Martina presents Dr. Duane with a Shuka

Martina presents Dr. Duane with a Shuka

By Nancy Allard

Thanksgiving came a little early this year at FAME. One of our former patients paid us a visit. Some of you may remember Martina, a patient who came to FAME in 2014 with second and third degree burns over 35% of her body, some already infected. She ended up spending the next 342 days in FAME’s inpatient ward fighting for her life and being cared for by our team. Well, Martina got word that visiting surgeon, Dr. Duane Koenig, had returned to FAME Medical for another volunteer stint and she wanted to personally thank him for the central role he played in saving her life. You see, Dr. Duane is the one who brought skin grafting to FAME Medical, donating the equipment and training his Tanzanian colleagues in the procedure.  He personally performed hours and hours of grafting on Martina and was very often at her side during the multiple dressing changes and debridements that followed.  And in his face she saw someone completely and absolutely unwilling to give up on her. By the time Martina was finally discharged, Dr. Duane had already returned home to Nebraska. Having graciously thanked the others involved in her care, she still had not been able to “properly” thank the man whose face gave her hope thru her darkest moments, until two weeks ago when she and her husband received word of his return.

Martina and her husband gift Dr. Duane with two chickens

Martina and her husband gift Dr. Duane with two chickens

How to thank someone who saved your life?  How about a shuka, a goat and two chickens -- that was Martina’s gift to her friend Dr. Duane. And his response, “Thank you. I would have gone to hell and back for you. I don’t need anything. My reward is to see you beautiful and smiling.” It was an extraordinary moment, one filled with joy, smiles and laughter - a magical moment between a patient and a doctor who share a special bond for life. 

Happy Thanksgiving to our generous supporters and partners, who continue to pave the way for powerful moments like these between patients and doctors at FAME Medical.  We are forever grateful to be sharing this journey WITH you.