I don’t want to brag but I have to be the member of this mission team with the best of all responsibilities. Each day I take photos of anything about our trip including the surrounding area and I get to write about anything I want. I have full access to talk with each member of our team every day about cases, how they are feeling and what they have seen. I have the chance to hear each person’s part of a medical case but there is a good chance I am the ONLY person that has heard the whole story about a particular patient. As the pieces of one of the cases started to unfold I realized I had to try and share it with all of you.
I can never say it enough but our medical team does amazing work. They do it all. They get many of their needed supplies to the mission location; they exam each of their patients, set their own schedules, perform the surgery and then do all of the follow-up with each patient. They HAVE to know they are making a difference. They have used their unique skill to heal. They travel so far to make it happen. But do they REALLY know the effect they have on someone’s life?
Kishan, had one of the most talked about surgeries on any mission trip I have been on. Dr. Jill Arganbright, Dr. Joel Jones and Cassie Yano, RN spent just over 8 hours removing a tumor from the side of Kishan’s neck. It weighed just over 6 lbs. and measured approximately 5” x 7”. He is going to be fine and is on course to make a full recovery. Apparently, I am not much of a story teller.
As you may have guessed there might be a little more to his story.
Kishan, 35 is a field laborer, with a wife of 10 years and two children 6 and 4. When he was young he had a bump on his neck and over the course of his life it grew and grew and grew and grew. He lost jobs because his employer thought the tumor would burst and he would die causing much trouble for them. Five years ago he started going to doctors and was once told maybe they could do something with that tumor, but he would need to prepay 90,000 rupees (approx. $1343 US Dollars). He had spent all of his money with different doctors and could not come close to raising the funds so he moved on. At one point someone told him the tumor would kill him in 5 years and he was crushed. He loves his family so he decided to quit trying to work and he quit looking for help so he could spend time with his wife and kids before he died.
One day a few weeks ago, he was at a train station in Delhi and by chance a stranger told him about a medical camp coming to Bhopal in February. Maybe they could help. That was enough hope for Kishan. He made the 14 hour trip to meet with our team and he heard. “I think we can help.” He cried.
The surgical team met with him and discussed there are risks and this is a complicated surgery. Upon hearing this he was scared. Who wouldn’t be, for so long time he heard nothing could be done and he was going to die. Now a stranger from American told him they could help. The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday and the fear overcame Kishan and he ran away. No one could find him until his wife tracked him down. In his mind he had to choose. Surgery and he risk of immediate death and a chance for recovery versus no surgery and a few years of life with his family and what he thought was sure death. How would you choose? His wife and son made it easy. There were threats from them that they would end their lives if he didn’t take the chance. This was his opportunity to spend many years watching his children grow. He realized if he didn’t take advantage of this offering he would be ruining the lives of many people so he returned to the hospital.
I talked to Dr. Arganbright well after the surgery and told her the pieces of his life she didn’t know. She explain how complicated this surgery would have been in America even with all our technology. Here she did not have the use of a sensor to determine nerve damage in the face – here the nerve sensing was done visually. It was a lot of hours but we did it. What?!?! We did it?!? She was so humble about what was done, all of the medical staff here is humble about the work they do and want no special recognition. They all just seem happy they have the opportunity to help.
I am going to say it because I have access to the blog – these volunteers are changing lives. There are surgeries on this mission and many other missions that have changed the life of the patient.
I talked to the family of Kishan, his doctors, the nursing staff and Kishan himself through an interpreter and late last night when the hospital was growing quiet I sat for a while and thought about how we arrived here. How did this man spend the last several years of his life searching for help, lose all hope and in the end has a chance to grow old with his wife and children? Yes, the doctors and nurses are here this week making the moves to heal but the change began long ago. One man in a country halfway around the world made me realize that one small gesture, whether it be a chance meeting in a train station, a decision to make a donation or words of encouragement from a family member to be a part of a mission trip – has the chance to make a significant impact…and this week it did in a big way.