Take Heart

It wasn’t the first time since I have lived here that I wished I had a medical background, and for a split second, I considered becoming a cardiac surgeon. A split-second later, I recalled that I am only one person, and can only do so much, that besides not actually being good around blood, bile, exposed body tissues, and various other bodily fluids, it would also cost me at least six years. Six years in which I couldn’t continue in what I am already doing, and 6 years of patients dying for lack of care. heart pic

We had already waited with Delisia, a 2 month old baby girl, in the hospital for 6 weeks before meeting the first cardiologist. Though we had known for a month she had a serious heart condition, this was the first available appointment with a specialist. I knew our resources were limited. I anticipated open-heart surgery. I was prepared to beg for a transfer to the country’s best hospital so that Delisia could obtain the best care available to her. But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“We have no cardiac surgeon in this country.”

None? Not one? “Well, aren’t we working to obtain one? Can’t we hire someone from a more developed country?”

“It’s not a priority.”

Not a priority? I see. Only a matter of life and death.

The doctor went on to explain that as we continue to have citizens dying daily due to malaria, higher priorities in other health care matters, take precedent over the need of a team of cardiac surgeons to perform life-saving surgeries.

I was dumbfounded. I know I live in a developing country. I know that there are various procedures considered fairly routine in other places, that are not available here. The fortunate ones, fly out to other countries for treatment. The less fortunate remain hospitalized for months, even years, just waiting. But waiting for what? A miracle, or death?

While my first concern was for Delisia, I walked back to the pediatric cardiology unit, where there were no more beds available. Scanning the children filling up the ward, I wondered how many were waiting for their miracle, for a life-saving surgery that may not come in time.

There is a waiting list, the doctors told me. Anyone needing a heart surgery is put on this waiting list. When foreign doctors visit for a week each year, those who are still alive will be put on the list for treatment. …

I’ve pondered this plight ever since I walked out of that doctor’s office. I wonder why we don’t have the physicians we need here. In my home country, I know that I could have my choice of heart surgeons, that there would have been no month-long wait to see a cardiologist, that when I did see him, he could refer me immediately to a surgeon, that If I didn’t feel comfortable with that surgeon, I could seek out another professional with higher qualifications or greater experience.

I believe that God knows and provides for everything we need. I believe he often has answered our prayers long before we ask. I also believe that often the provisions he has put in place do not come about, because we fail to follow His plan. For example we pray that others would know Christ, yet we fail to tell them. We pray for the poor and needy, but we fail to give. We pray for God to meet the needs in under-developed and developing countries, but we are not willing to allow Him to send us.

I wonder if He has asked someone to take their education and the skills He has given them and come to a less-fortunate part of the world to save lives, and they have not followed His call.

What about you? Has He asked you to come?

 

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