Tag Archive for 'surgery'

How Donations Were Used…

I’m sure those of you who contributed to this cause are wondering exactly what kind of an impact you made, and those yet to donate want to see what they can do.  As of today, $2,600 USD have been raised by the people listed here.

First of all I’d like to once again thank everyone who made a contribution, whether it was $3.00, or whether it was $300, because everything counts, especially in Cameroon.  For reference, $3.00 will buy a breakfast, lunch, and an accompanying drink, with a little to spare.  Over 50 people made a contribution – college students, teachers, friends, and people I don’t even know – pretty amazing.  Donations came in all forms as well, via internet, in the mail, hand delivered cheques, and inebriated cash donations at a bar.  So I thank you!  Let me first give you the context of how much value your donations had.

Dr. Bwelle and me: just two regular dudes

Dr. Georges Bwelle, the surgeon who leads the whole organization, is a GI surgeon at the Central Hospital in Yaounde, Cameroon, the capital and second largest city.  Yaounde has 1.43 million inhabitants, more than two Bostons, and would rank as the 7th most populous city in the U.S.  The point is that there are a lot of sick people, and that any person who works in a big city, specifically a doctor will make a substantial amount in the U.S.  It seems reasonable I suppose, there’s a lot of schooling involved, a lot of responsibility, long hours, but doctors don’t really do it for the money, especially not in Cameroon.  Doctors in Cameroon are viewed as civic servants and they are paid that way.  The average surgeon in Dr. Bwelle seniority level makes approximately $500 a month, that’s $6000 a year.  Let’s think about that for a second.

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A Surgical Time Machine

I suppose everyone, at one point or another, has dreamed of a time machine being possible.

Yes he played for the blackhawks...

There are plenty of amazing things that have happened that seemed crazy at the time, starting with the earth revolving around the sun and ending with watching a Stanley Cup Hockey game live on a computer in Cameroon.  If you would have told Bobby Orr back in 1961 that he could watch the Blackhawks win the Cup while on safari in Africa, he put you in a straight jacket himself.  And not just because he knew they wouldn’t win another cup until 2010, hopefully.  So one day I asked my buddy Ian, who publicly goes to school in “Boston” (his polite way of not saying MIT), is it possible in the most ridiculous sense that a time machine could ever be invented?

He said no, and then proceeded to explain the scientific reasoning why we’d have to travel faster than the speed of light or something, don’t quite remember, or comprehend.  I probably was just demoralized when he denied my dream of living history.  However, I am here to inform everyone that there is a back door to a time machine, traveling.

Dr. Georges starting operating at 6pm, and when I saw his first patient on what looked like a wider ironing board, I thought to myself, “This must have been just what surgery was like back in World War II, maybe even earlier!”  Frankly it’s not that much of a stretch.  The operating room had two tables (still resembling longer, wider ironing boards) separated by a makeshift curtain.  The room wasn’t equipped with lighting, so one of our guys Etienne, installed some electric circuitry a now there was a lightbulb dangling above one of the operating tables.  The other table was lit was a plugged in flood lamp.  The room had one window, two geckos, a door, and a tin roof.  The roof had been heated up by the sun so much during the day that it now felt like it was heating the operating room to an unbearable temperature.  Maybe it was that 12 people were in the OR.  And the walls were cement through and through.

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