Saving Hearts in the dark...

October 24, 2013

It's my third morning here in Mwanza, waking up at 5am, and as I turn the alarm clock off, I hear the local Muazin. The first morning here I was surprised to hear a recited call for prayer and not a sung one, I'm so used to the beautiful voices and the melodic call to prayer that Muslims have in the Middle East that I was surprised at the different style. The next morning though, there was another guy doing the call and he WAS singing, or at least he was trying.. I thought to myself: “This guy should get some singing lessons”!. Honestly, he had a terrible voice that was failing him all the time, breaking in the high notes, and he had no musical ear what so ever! And I remember thinking: “Bring back the reciting guy, this is no way to start the morning!”. However, today, I woke up to a beautiful clear voice, “That's more like it! I vote for this guy!”.

I thought how once I was on a shooting set in Nazareth really early in the morning and the Muazin started singing, a few seconds later another Muazin in a different quarter started singing too, and a minute later a third one was heard from far away, the three of them were fantastic singers and they formed such a wonderful symphony of Muazins that I will never forget.

However, for now, I will have to bear with this X-Factor-bad-audition-to-draw-rating guy. Yes, it's that bad.

I wake up this early in order to have some time to check emails and upload blogs and posts before everybody wakes up and starts riding the wifi of the hotel, so I go down to the cafe and have a coffee while I work, and the SACH team starts to emerge little by little, some of them managed to rest, some less, and I look at these people who are busting their asses in a far away country, trying to do good, it touches me. The decision to come along on SACH's medical expedition, despite the fatigue, despite the distance from my usual routine and the difficulty to run my business from here, seems more and more like the right thing to do for me.

We get on the bus heading for the hospital, three kids are in the pediatric ICU (intensive care unit) recovering from the operations they had yesterday, we visit them first. Heart surgeon Dr. Lior Sasson from the Wolfson hospital in Israel (and a member of Save A Child's Heart), together with his apprentice Dr. Godwin Godfry check up on the kids. All of them are still sedated, but doing great. The nurses from the night shift change their clothes and are taken back to the hotel to get some rest.

We go up to the pediatric ward on the 5th floor and start one more day of examinations and interviews. Dr. Alona Raucher, Senior Cardiologist of Wolfson medical center needs to make very difficult decisions about who gets operated, and where. Part of the kids will be operated here in Bugado medical center, either during this week or throughout the year, pending on their situation. And the other part will be flown to Israel to be operated there, these are the more complicated cases, that require more elaborate facilities. I've watched Dr. Raucher examine 40 kids a day! But give each of them the personal attention they need, and her full concentration, I honestly don't know how she does it, it's quite hard to keep your concentration at full capacity for 12 hours straight, not to mention the many distractions and the difficult conditions in which she's working. In the room that was assigned for her here there are no lights, so once the sun goes down she is working in complete darkness, with the help of some of the staff's iPhones. Yesterday while she was examining one kid, we heard a commotion from the hall outside where the other kids and their parents are sitting, one of the kids had collapsed and Dr. Raucher had to stop what she's doing and perform resuscitation, the boy survived, and was immediately hospitalized, and this morning he was the first to be operated on. It turns out to be he's been taking some unsuitable medication for a while, prescribed for him by previous doctors, and his body collapsed, luckily enough he was just outside the room where the SACH team was working and not at school or at home. A thin line divides between life and death, and when you're walking that line, it's a matter of chance who's there to pull you to what side.

The day is almost over, soon, the regular routine of holding up our iPhones will start, although some technicians came into the room earlier today to asses the light problem, they brought a huge ladder which they did not use, they stood there and looked at the ceiling for a bit, then went out the way they came, I wonder if they're planning to take some kind of action to fix the problem, they haven't returned to the room in the meantime :-)

 

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