A scene at the theater of St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor.

“Those who have come to consult the urologist should line up here”

“You should not eat or drink anything from midnight of Monday, September 11, 2017 until after the operation on Tuesday. You should report here with an attendant one hour before we take you to the theater”

GULU-UGANDA:  Every year since 2010, a team of volunteer surgeons and other medical professionals from the United States of America, under their organization; the Medical Missions Foundation, travel to offer the most basic surgical services to the people of war ravaged northern Uganda for free.

Research show that nine out of ten people around the world cannot access even the most basic surgical services. There are so many reasons for this. There is lack of professionals to do such operations in developing countries and also the fact that the cost of carrying out such surgeries is way above the means of ordinary people.

The “well-to-do” travel abroad for such vital services like plastic surgery. These American volunteers have come to bridge the gap.

The mission, which came to Gulu district, in northern Uganda, attracted 340 American surgeons, nurses and other volunteers who carried out 872 surgical procedures and made 7,800 clinic visits since it began in 2010.

I happen to be one of the over one thousand patients who reported to St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor surgical Ward II on Sunday, September 10, 2017 to receive the services from the medics.

As precursor to this day, I had to undergo a number of tests and screenings by doctors from Lacor hospital to enable me reach to this level.

The guests’ corner of the ward was in total chaos as patients struggled to get attention of the medics who were calling out names to be screened  from the list of patients who had lined up for the free surgery.

Just as I was about to give up altogether, the medics changed their approach from calling out names according to the lists compiled by Lacor hospital to calling patients with a particular needs. I was relieved. I knew through this approach I would get the attention of the medics.

“Those who have come to consult the urologist should line up here”

I got up quickly, picked my bag and medical forms and hurried to the line of patients called. I was sixth in the line.

It was at around 4.30 o’clock local time (01.30 GMT) when my time to consult the urologist came.

I handed him my medical forms quietly and after looking through, he told me to report back to the ward for surgery to correct my prostate on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 11.15 local time.

He then handed me over to another volunteer medic who then wrote my name down on a form she was holding, put some two hand bands on my left hand, one of which is written the name of the urologist, Dr. Brandon Pomeroy, who was scheduled to operate on me on Tuesday. The other hand band is written the time when I was supposed to be taken to the theater. I was then directed to another table, this time manned by staffs of Lacor hospital.

I filled consent form and signed it on this table and their instructions to me were very clear:

“You should not eat or drink anything from midnight of Monday, September 11, 2017 until after the operation on Tuesday. You should report here with an attendant one hour before we take you to the theater”, instructs a student nurse.

I didn’t know how I would follow the instructions on ‘not drinking anything’ since I usually drink a lot of water on hourly basis.

My imagination for Tuesday was that I would be operated upon and would be able to get back home on the same day. I was wrong.

I reported to that desk thirty minutes to 11.00 am with my son Jesse, as my attendant, but had to wait in the queue as patients after patients were being called to go to the theater up to 6.00 pm before I was finally called to the theater.

I was desperately thirsty and wanted very much to hurry things up so I could drink some water.

When my time finally came, I was led by a male student nurse into a room where I was stripped of my clothes and I was given a hospital dress instead. I was then led into the theater.

I found the urologist still working on another patient as two volunteer nurses from America looked on quietly. Two other local theater staffs stood near a trolley containing medicines and other equipments. Their mouths were covered with gloves.

I was offered a chair to sit, some biscuits and water to drink before being subjected to a series of interviews to find out if I was really ready for the operation.

They put a line on my left harm through which they put some liquid which was in a bottle.

“We shall send you to sleep before the operation but we shall meet when you wake up”, as all I could remember one of the nurses telling me. I woke up one hour later feeling as if I would like to urinate.

“You urinate. We have put a catheter to assist you urinate” was all I could remember of the theater. I realized I was on drip. The doctors had not cut me anywhere on my body.

I was then transferred from the theater into the ward where I spent the night for monitoring until two days later when I finally was discharged.

They removed the drip and catheter the following day but I was requested to drink a lot of water.


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