A normal day at Neema Hospital

Wednesday November 17 2021

Read part 1

#Part 2

It's almost 13pm. Antonio and I are heading to the canteen when we meet a visibly desperate young woman. Surgeons were supposed to operate on her young daughter this morning, but due to other emergencies and more serious cases, the operation was postponed until the next day.

Antonio immediately understands the reasons of the woman, who had to make enormous sacrifices to be absent from work for a couple of days in order to look after her daughter, and decides to carry out the operation immediately. The operating room is prepared again and the anesthetists return immediately from their short break.

The little girl needs an operation on both club feet, which, in this case, cannot be corrected with a "simple" cast. As soon as the young patient falls asleep, Antonio makes an incision just above the heel and lengthens the tendon, in order to correct the malformation. The same procedure is repeated for the other foot. Finally, the little girl is put in a cast and transferred to the nearby room. The operation lasted more than two hours and had a positive outcome. In a short time the little girl will be able to walk correctly.  

Antonio fills out the documentation and then we go to visit the patients who underwent surgery this morning. I am struck, as always, by Dr. Melotto's great sensitivity when, during visits, he checks the patients' conditions and reassures their parents.  

We then head to the Guest House and, during the journey, we meet Doctor Morino, who is visibly surprised to see us still around. In fact, it's four o'clock and we haven't had lunch yet. We quickly eat a bite, but then go straight back to the clinic: this morning, while we were in the operating room, other patients arrived. Many have been visited by the staff at Neema Hospital, but some are still waiting and Antonio wants to visit them before the day comes to an end. Among the patients waiting there are still many children suffering from disabilities: paralysis, convulsions, epilepsy, malformations. I read the anxiety, sadness and resignation in the faces of their parents. I watch helplessly.  

It's late and the sun is about to set. The last rays of the sun illuminate the departments of the RU Neema Hospital, now almost deserted. Another long day is coming to an end. It's almost time for dinner when we head towards the Guest House again. While, taciturn, I try to put order to the emotions that I experienced today, Antonio states that it is not for any reason acceptable to postpone visits to patients with disabilities, even more so if there are children among them. For this reason, when he is in Nairobi, he does his best to visit as many as possible. The local staff, who have received training from him and other professionals and are highly qualified, are not always able to keep up with the numerous requests.

I keep this thought of his in my memory, where it will remain imprinted forever. 

Photo by Marco Leoncino.

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