"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

Tuesday, April 16: Macha area patients

Tuesday morning started early with our team (minus Caro since she would be arriving late Tuesday) leaving New Day on the bus to head to Macha to meet patients at the radio station for screenings.  We always do the trips set up in the same manner with patient evaluations at Macha first, then patients from Choma the next day, fabrication in the middle of the trip and then patient fittings at the end. 

Protashow coordinates ahead of our trip to have an announcement on the radio for a few weeks about what services we provide, and he also communicates with the Disabilities Office in Choma for them to contact patients that they know need prosthetic and ocular prosthetic services. 

The Macha radio station is currently closed, so that radio station did not announce about our trip, but a station from Choma did instead, instructing patients to meet at the Macha radio station on Tuesday or the Disabilities Office in Choma on Wednesday. 

The wonderful Whitney on our (very bumpy dirt road) ride to Macha. Whitney and I have been friends since childhood, so it was really special to me to be able to share the experience of this trip to Zambia with her.

The New Day bus at the radio station.

We had 3 prosthetic patients and 2 ocular patients meet us at the Macha radio station and then picked up several other people as we drove back to the clinic. There were also people at the clinic when we arrived. In all, we 23 patients on Tuesday---7 ocular patients for John and 16 patients for prosthetics or orthotics. 

Mweetwa met us at the radio station. Here I'm examining his prosthesis to assess what needs repair. He has been a patient coming for quite some time now to see us. He speaks English, so we have a much easier time communicating. 

One of John's long time patients, Nico, also met us at the radio station to come for a check up.

Akim and Blessford are brothers who we have been seeing since 2017. Akim's prosthosis (combination orthosis and prosthesis to provide support for his right leg deformity and make the right side the correct height) needed repair with a new foot and straps. Blessford's above knee prosthesis needed a new foot, and the prosthesis needed to be lengthened since he has grown. We can definitely tell these little boys are active with their prostheses by how worn out the prosthetic feet were.

A young boy who came to the radio station for screening for a prosthetic eye.

We also stopped by the Macha hospital to see if Dr. Samuel was at the eye clinic. He is an ophthalmologist missionary who John coordinates with for ocular prosthetic patients. 

 By the time we got back to the clinic, the bus was full with the people from the radio station and people we picked up along the way who were waiting at different areas. There were also people waiting on the porch already, so we had quite a full waiting area! Before starting to see patients, I had a translator go around the porch with me checking to make sure I had everyone on my list who needed to be seen.

Protashow and I looking through the list of people to see to determine how we would split up patients. I started with casting all the new patients while he did repairs, asking for help or double checking things with me when he needed, then I helped him finish up repairs. Protashow is doing great with increasing his knowledge and skill set with prosthetics! It was awesome to see him seeing patients independently this trip.

 Chabelo is 1 year old and has clubfoot. He is unable to walk but can stand on his right leg while being supported. Our option to help him walk due to his left leg deformity is to make a bent knee prosthesis, which will allow him to kneel into a custom support over his thigh and lower leg that has a prosthetic foot attached underneath. We had made one of these types of prostheses for another pediatric patient a few years ago, Rhoda, and have made her another one for her since she's grown. So, we know this will be a great option for Chabelo. We hope one day he will be able to have an elective amputation to give him a more functional opportunity with a standard prosthesis.

Clyness was casted for a right knee disarticulation prosthesis. After seeing her in September where her leg was infected, we gave her family money to get her to a doctor to consider a revision amputation to address the chronic infected wound. To make a long story short, after many conversations and connections she was able to be seen at Beit Cure Hospital in Lusaka for a revision amputation to a knee disarticulation. Her surgery site was healed, and she was cleared by the doctor for prosthetic fitting just prior to our arrival this trip. It was great to see her smiling for the first time! We are so thankful that her family trusted us and took her to Lusaka for the revision amputation. 

Alvera was casted for a right below knee prosthesis. Her amputation was in 2018 due to diabetes. 

 Marytah was casted for a left below knee prosthesis. Her amputation was in May 2018 due to diabetes. 

Interestingly (at least to us orthotic/prosthetic nerds) we have seen an increase in incidence of amputations due to diabetes since we have been coming to Zambia since 2012. (Diabetes is the #1 cause of amputation in the United States). 

We also saw a young boy with a left knee genuvalgum deformity (knocked-knee). His right leg is also 1/2" too short, which could be a contributing factor for his deformity. A lift was put in his right shoe to make him more balanced, but his family was advised to have him see an orthopedic doctor for further evaluation of the left knee deformity. This was another example of someone coming expectantly to see us and us having to tell them there is nothing we can do. It's always so sad to have this conversation, and I'm always amazed at how gracious and thankful the people are for us to just evaluate and talk with them even though we are unable to help them. 

Before and after(below) photo of a patient of John's who came for a check up.

 Whitney took this amazing picture of the absolutely stunning tree by our clinic.  This is the beautiful view we get to see from the clinic everyday during our trips. 

We finished out the extremely busy Tuesday with Caro arriving! She got to New Day and came up to the clinic just about the time we were finishing seeing patients. Tuesday was an awesome day seeing some familiar faces of returning patients for check ups and new patients as well. 

Next post: Wednesday, April 17: Choma area patients 

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