The Final Days of Surgeries

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After our final surgery was stabilized in the ICU, Fekade (Dr. Fekadesilassie) took us to tour the “other” Addis hospital. I solemnly swear to keep my opinions to myself and my photos unbiased.

These kids’ families asked me to come in and take pics of them. I don’t know what they were in for and I didn’t ask. I’ve never felt so helpless and discouraged in all my life (those aren’t opinions- those are facts).


Cattaneo was just sure this one was going to dissect her carotids.


Our last full day in Addis we went back to the hospital to check on all the kids and to finish handing out goodies.


Our original star child, A. and her mother with the chin-strap tattoos. I asked a man I met later what the chin straps meant, and he said they’re a sign of Christian Orthodox devotion.

I went to get pictures of the children developed so they could have something to remember us by. I met two men in the photo shop and told them about our mission.

Dr. Tahta and Tristan greet Tahta’s favorite patient, a tissue valve replacement from his first mission in 2009.

We had a loooong layover in Nairobi so we hit up the spa to pass some of, okay most of, the time. IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Prices are negotiable, but make sure and agree on a price before the treatment. In the middle of my massage I was roped into a scrub too. Take a guess how much a scrub costs if you don’t negotiate beforehand. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY US DOLLARS. For an effing 15-minute effing scrub! Lesson learned.

That sums up our mission trip to Ethiopia! There’s a number of things we’d do differently next time, namely stay longer and crank out more surgeries. Also, fly non-stop on Ethiopian Airlines from the States and everyone stay at the same hotel. Also, no body scrubs in the Nairobi airport. And no long layovers as they just make you spend more money. And no getting into a taxi with a driver who doesn’t speak English, doesn’t know where he’s going, and doesn’t agree on a price beforehand.

All in all it was a great trip and I can’t wait to go back. In fact, I’ve asked Greg if we can just go live in Addis for a time so that I may volunteer in the pediatric emergency room. I don’t know what I would do there, maybe just give out some love pats, but seeing as how I can’t get Greg to agree to live in Tulsa because of the heat so I think sub-Saharan Africa is out of the question. That said, if anyone has any spoiled rotten children who need a wake-up call, send them with me next time I go and we’ll volunteer there together.

Before I go, here are some not-so-fun facts about health care in Ethiopia and rheumatic fever:

  • Physician to patient ratio in Ethiopia is 1 or 2:100,000.
  • Physician to patient ratio in the US is as high as 314:100,000.
  • Physician salaries in Ethiopia average around $6,000 USD/year.
  • Family practice physician salaries in the US average around $160,000/year.
  • Worldwide, there are 350,000 new cases of rheumatic fever annually.
  • There are about 15,000,000 total cases.
  • About 400,000 people die annually from rheumatic fever.
  • On this mission to Ethiopia we had ten patients to choose from.
  • Our team performed successful valve replacement surgeries on a total of six children and young adults.
  • There are another 5,000 on the waiting list. JUST IN ADDIS.


The end.


See our other Mission posts:

Medical Mission

Meet the Patients

Surgeries 1

Surgeries 2

Surgeries 3


5 thoughts on “The Final Days of Surgeries

  1. Of course you wore it better. William smiled at all that head shakin’ and again when Mama tried it. Good posts Jamie!

    1. Awesome! I’d like to see that. Give that baby lots of smooches and those girls lots of spankin’s!

  2. Great pictures………amazing story. Tell you what……..I know no one that has ever moved that fast (dance video)…………..ever! And I think computer work will give you neck problems!

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