By Dr. Andrea Parker, MD, MedSend surgeon serving in Kenya

I have been struck with a sense of gratitude for this work that God allows me to be a part of. Working here can be hard…really hard. Sometimes the losses and perceived failures add up. As surgeons, we tend to be rather hard on ourselves, always looking for what we could have done differently and how to learn from those losses and failures. We don’t often take an equivalent amount of time to be thankful for the good outcomes, for the lives saved and for the beautiful stories we get to be a part of.

On our patient rounds recently, we took time to celebrate a win. The residents on my team and I reflected on the privilege that it is to provide care for our patients. And I was reminded of what an honor it is to participate in training these young surgeons.

Esther (the patient pictured above with permission) is a young woman who presented to our hospital with a bowel obstruction, a blockage of her intestines caused by scar tissue in her abdomen from a previous surgery. Esther was also 19 weeks pregnant with her second child. Ultimately, Esther required an operation to relieve the obstruction. While bowel obstruction is a very common surgical condition, it is just that – a surgical condition. And while some bowel obstructions will resolve without surgery, in Esther’s case, without access to surgical care, she would have languished, eventually becoming profoundly dehydrated, likely losing her baby, and ultimately dying herself. It grieves me to think that this is the reality for those without access to care.

But today, Esther went home, healthy, happy and with the amazing added gift of having felt her baby move for the first time while she was in the hospital. Despite the hard stuff, there is nowhere I would rather be than where God has placed me, training these gifted and dedicated surgical residents as we treat and Jesus heals patients like Esther.

–    Andrea Parker, MD, and her husband Robert Parker, MD, are MedSend surgeons who serve at a Christian hospital in Kenya caring for patients and training and discipling African surgical residents and medical students.