July 14th, 2017

            If you can’t tell by the title, I had the most incredible experience on Wednesday at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital at Ridge and quite honestly I’m still pinching myself making sure it wasn’t a dream.  My rotation was in the obstetrics surgical theatre to watch cesarean sections be performed, which is an incredible opportunity in and of itself.  I was able to watch a C-section from start to finish for a variety of circumstances, either scheduled due to failure to progress naturally or previous C-sections with prior pregnancies, and even an emergency case due to the mother having pre-eclampsia, which puts the baby at risk so immediate delivery is necessary.  I would watch and listen as the surgeon described each layer that he was going through at that point in time and ask questions to have a deeper grasp of what the process entails.  It was such an amazing opportunity to see a glimpse of new life coming into the world and learning things that I never knew along the way, such as seeing the placenta with my own eyes and realizing it is much bigger and more intricate than I’ve ever learned in a classroom or imagined in my mind.  This is how the first two cesarean sections went: watching the process of anesthetic be given, incisions being made, the baby being delivered, cleaning up, and then suturing everything back up.  In between surgeries the theatre would have to be cleaned and the next patient would have to be prepped so I would wait in the main theatre area where the mothers are kept post-op and chat with the nurses and doctors in the meantime.  What happened next is where things get even better.

            During my time chatting in the main area waiting for the next surgery to observe I met Dr. Kubi, one of the obstetric surgeons that was rotating doing the Cesarean sections for the day.  We briefly talked about what my plans at the hospital were for the week and how I would be in the operating room during the day.  He asked if our group was just observing or if we were getting involved and I told him that if he was willing to let me get involved then I would be more than happy to.  Next thing I know it’s half an hour later and in walks Dr. Kubi, introducing us to the surgeon and surgical assistant currently working, telling us to pay attention to this surgery because it will be me that’s assisting on the next one.  Right on cue just as the C-section is almost complete, he walks in and asks if I’m ready to go and of course I say “yes!”.  I follow him to the wash station where I get all suited up with surgical boots and apron and learn how to properly scrub in.  This is when it hits me that this is really happening.  I followed Dr. Kubi and the surgical assistant into the theatre where they gown and glove me and next thing I know I’m right across the table from the surgeon with my hands on the patient, ready to assist in a cesarean section surgery.  I had gauze in hand ready to clear the field while he made incisions through the multiple layers and held back the metal clamps until he got down to the uterus where the magic happens.  A small incision and a few seconds later there was a perfect baby girl breathing her very first breaths.  I never knew that the uterus is completely taken out of the stomach cavity after delivery to clean it out and suture it up before being put back in.  Not only did I get to witness this firsthand, I got to hold the uterus while the surgeon sutured the patient back up…I mean WOW.  I told Dr. Kubi that this was the best day of my life and he replied in classic Ghanaian fashion, “Are you sure?”.  Oh, I’m 100% sure…never in a million years did I think that I would get this experience but I’m so thankful that I did.  His reply, “Well good, I’m glad you learned something”. 

            I learned something and then some, not only today but throughout my entire experience in Ghana over the last month.  I’ve been able to witness inventiveness with the most limited of resources and a determination to save patients no matter what it takes.  I’ve also learned a lot about myself and my own passions and strengths that have encouraged me to continue pursuing my dreams for a future career in a field that I love and I’m reassured that I’m heading in the right direction.  I’ve learned that there’s truly nothing like experiential learning and doing something yourself will always make you have a greater understanding and appreciation for it than just learning about it in passing.  I’ve learned that willpower, hard work, and adaptability go a long way in life and you’ll never regret putting in your best effort.  I’ve learned that there’s so much out there to see and experience and that what we are accustomed to isn’t all that’s out there.  I’ve learned to never give up on your dreams and appreciate the support that helps you get where you’re aiming.  So on that note – thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has helped me get to Ghana to have the experience of a lifetime.  You are so appreciated and I can’t tell you enough how much your support means to me.  I can’t wait to see y’all so soon and continue sharing other amazing stories like this one.



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