Ear Outreach

Dr. Uta Froeschl, the ENT surgeon from Beit Cure hospital funded by CBM, attended the first Mercy Flyers ear surgery outreach with Dr.’s Oranmore-Brown and Wood.

The team packed the operating microscope along with all the other equipment into the aircraft and headed out to Lewanika hospital in the town of Mongu on the banks of the Zambezi River in Western province.

The ministry of health and World Vision had been advertising the outreach for 2 months via radio and clinic adverts. The trip had an inauspicious start with 5 minute aborted flight due to impenetrable weather. As we do not have good weather service, often the only way to determine if the weather is flyable is to get up and have a look if there are gaps in the clouds we can get through. In this case the cloud just west of our airfield was from ground to 30,000ft with no way of getting round so we returned to sit it out at Chilongolo.

Two hours later the satellite pictures on the internet were looking better and so was the view out of the window so we decided to try again. This time things were vastly improved and we had an uneventful flight.

We were very pleased that the microscope worked perfectly both in the clinic, where we saw 36 patients, and in theatre where we operated on 10 of them. 80% of our patients are children in these clinics. Middle ear infections are a significant problem often leading to deafness due to lack of treatment. The program requires the use of a clinical officer who has specialized in ear care. We organized with the hospital to send a clinical officer (Mutumba) for special training with Dr. Froeschl in Ndola in January – she proved to be the top student on the course. The team worked very well together and Mutumba will continue with post-op care and follow-up.

We have decided to add a second day of surgery for future trips as we expect the workload to double next time. While we were operating in one theatre there was a cardiac arrest of a patient in the neighbouring theatre – the Mercy Flyers anaesthetists were called to help. We led the resus and helped the team to stabilize the patient in ICU. This is one of the new ICU’s around the country we are assisting to set up so this was a great opportunity for training of nurses and doctors how to manage a critically ill patient on the ventilator.

We also had a patient with life-threatening airway obstruction from vocal cord paralysis. We were able to anaesthetize him and do a surgical airway so that he can return to normal life. Both patients are well and have been discharged from hospital. We will be returning in June.

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