It was 11:30 at night when Paulo, a young male in his 20s, arrived at FAME with severe abdominal pain. Dr. Badyana and Dr. Julius, the clinical team on night duty, immediately jumped into action, performing his work-up, putting him on IV fluids and performing X-rays to try to determine a diagnosis. Following his x-ray, they called in Dr. Kelly, our global surgery fellow from Creighton University for guidance and support. When Dr. Kelly arrived, there still wasn’t a clear diagnosis. They did know, however, that Paulo had an acute abdomen, and that there was something emergent going on inside. Dr. Kelly and Dr. Badyana called the OR team, explaining that they needed the OR opened as fast as possible. Despite the late hour, the team rallied. Thank goodness the OR supervisor lives on campus and a driver is “on call” to pick up others for just such situations. In no time at all, the OR team was in place and ready to go. When the surgeons opened Paulo’s abdomen, they found what is called small bowel volvulus, a situation in which the small bowel twists on the mesentery, the tissue that fans out to the small bowel. When this happens, all blood flow to the small intestine is cut off, leaving only a finite amount of time before all of the bowel dies.
As Dr. Kelly and Dr. Badyana worked to save Paulo’s life, they noticed that his intestine was already showing signs of injury. They untwisted his small intestine and placed warm saline over it. They waited a few minutes and much to their relief, the color of the bowel improved. Fortunately, none of the intestine needed to be removed and the surgery was a success. Following the operation, Dr. Kelly expressed that if FAME didn’t exist, considering how time sensitive his condition was, this young man would have died.
Young and strong, Paulo recovered remarkably fast over the next few days. He’s been back in clinic twice since surgery, asking the doctors when he’ll be well enough to be back playing soccer. He is also exceedingly thankful: “I appreciated how they received my father and I. Immediately, I was taken to the doctor’s office and they began treating me.” Paulo’s story illustrates what a proactive and patient-centered team can accomplish at a small hospital on a hill in rural Tanzania. His life saved, hopefully Paulo will be back on the soccer pitch soon!
We are deeply grateful for you, our friends and supporters. Your generosity and support are enabling us to save lives, like Paulo’s, every single day in Karatu, Tanzania. Be blessed this Thanksgiving and always.