In Bomi, the resources were limited, yet improving since civil war strife ended. There was no electronic positioning of operating tables, but cranks and hydraulics still worked. The surgical lights were adequate but personal surgeon headlights greatly aided care. There was no suction, but cotton sponges still worked. There was no cautery, but meticulous surgical hemostasis was still obtained with sutures. There was no anesthesia machine, but hands-on mechanical monitoring of vital signs provided by great nurse anesthetists kept our patients alive and comfortable. There were no paper disposable surgical gowns and drapes, but surgical sterile cotton gowns over rubber aprons provided patient/physician protection—but added a layer of uncomfortable heat.
Okay, I was sooo ready when the generator ran out of gas, lights flickered and went off, and the over taxed air-conditioning unit quit. Dr. Mulbah announced, “This is our last case!” Everyone knew exactly why, with muffled laughs of knowing all the soft, coddled, spoiled American doctors and nurses would pass out of heat exhaustion and dehydration if we did not stop. Eight out of ten Liberian women's lives changed forever.
My life changed forever.
John Grechus, M.D.