Necrotizing fasciitis – commonly called “flesh-eating disease” – is a medical emergency anywhere. In Bundibugyo, Uganda, it’s a virtual death sentence.
Knowing this, MedSend physician Dr. Marc Carrigan was alarmed to diagnose necrotizing fasciitis as the cause of a spreading blue wound on the hip of his 10-month-old patient, Joel. At the 60-bed government health center in Bundibugyo where Dr. Carrigan serves, there are no surgeons, few antibiotics for treatment or cultures to guide therapy – and only one doctor besides himself.
“I feared that Joel would lose his life or his limb,” he recalls. “I laid my hands on his head and asked God to spare his life and to show me the best way to treat him.”
He realized that Joel’s best chance for survival would be to transfer him to a hospital with surgeons who could stop the infection’s relentless spread by removing the infected tissue. Unfortunately, the closest referral hospital was eight hours away – a daunting challenge for the family. But with Dr. Carrigan’s encouragement, and financial help from his ministry team, they set off.
A week later, Dr. Carrigan was shocked when Joel’s three-year-old sister Miriam was brought to the health center – with the same type of infection.
“Her life was also in danger,” he says. “After calling the referral hospital and getting a good report on Joel, I prayed and sent her off.”
The health center in Bundibugyo serves the “poorest of the poor” in western Uganda, including refugees from the DRC. Not surprisingly, health needs are staggering, with high rates of infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition, sickle cell disease, malaria, and HIV. Dr. Carrigan cares for up to 150 patients each week, doing ward rounds, consulting, ultrasound exams, and surgeries. He also runs a chronic disease clinic and trains national healthcare professionals.
Despite this grueling schedule, he always makes time to share the good news of Christ’s love with patients and pray for them. And when necessary, goes the extra mile – or more.
In fact, three weeks after diagnosing little Miriam, he navigated a narrow, rutted dirt road to visit the family at their mud and stick house. Both children had undergone extensive surgery to remove the infected tissue and now had large skin grafts covering their wounds. Dr. Carrigan changed the dressings and taught the family how to provide ongoing care.
Through tears, the children’s mother shared how thankful she was that God had spared the lives of her only two children.
“I laughed and cried with them as we rejoiced over their children’s recovery,” Dr. Carrigan says. “While sitting in the ramshackle house with the extended family and interested onlookers, I shared the gospel and prayed once again for these sweet children.”
Dr. Carrigan’s wife Stephanie, a family nurse practitioner and also a MedSend grant recipient, knows firsthand the unique power of compassionate medical care in demonstrating Jesus’ love.
“The love that comes with the medical care also goes deeper to penetrate hearts and tend to unmet emotional needs,” she explains. “Being the hands and feet of Jesus to those we care for opens their hearts to the gospel message in a new way.”
Dr. Carrigan agrees that healthcare and evangelism can lead to true transformation in individual lives – and entire communities.
“If I can help in the work of establishing the gospel in this area, who can measure the impact that will have on the health of the people and community of Bundibugyo?” he asks.
Meet the Carrigans…
In this great video, Marc and Stephanie Carrigan invite you to experience some of the joys and challenges of their lives on the field.
And the rest of the team…
Click the video link below to take a short trip over the Rwenzori Mountains to Bundibugyo in Western Uganda. See for yourself how Dr. Carrigan and three other MedSend grant recipients are weaving together medical and gospel ministry as they serve “the least of these” in that remote region.
Your support makes it possible!
Thanks to your compassionate generosity, these Christian healthcare professionals are bringing healthcare and God’s love to the people of Bundibugyo and beyond. Working together, we are having an impact on lives now – and for eternity!
“Having a MedSend grant has kept me from having to worry over how to pay my remaining school debt while serving on the mission field on a greatly reduced annual salary. I don’t have the words to convey how much of a blessing it is to be relieved of this monthly burden. This enables us to be generous in areas where we would have otherwise been limited.”
– Rhett Wheeler, physical therapist
“MedSend has been vital in allowing me to serve in Uganda. I am able to help treat and prevent malnutrition in an underserved population living in poverty. I can bring hope to the people through Christ by not only addressing their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs. I am truly grateful for my MedSend grant, which allows me to keep serving and loving the people in my community.”
– Alisha Justice, registered dietitian
“Medical School loan repayment through MedSend has been a vital step on my journey to serving as a medical missionary. With many years remaining to pay off my student loans, I was unable to leave for the mission field until my loan payments were accounted for. MedSend was able to share this need with their donors and secure loan repayment for me so that I could leave immediately to serve in a very needy part of Uganda.”
– Marc Carrigan, family physician