Like Angels Sent by God

May 30, 2019 • Burundi
Doctors care for 9-year-old Amié after an extensive surgery to straighten his legs.

Current and former Post-Residents team up to perform life-giving surgeries on orthopedic patients in Burundi.

Amié Fleury’s name means “Beloved Flower,” and it broke his parents’ hearts to know that there was nothing doctors in Burundi could do to help him walk.

Amié had a rare condition called Blount’s disease.

Nine-year-old Amié suffers from a rare condition called Blount’s disease, which caused his legs to bow outward at the knees. Burundi has only 300 doctors for 11 million citizens, and there were no surgeons who could offer the specialized care he needed.

Then his father, a pastor and evangelist named Michel Ntamubano, heard about a World Medical Mission orthopedic surgery team that Samaritan’s Purse was sending to Burundi. He brought him three hours over the mountains to Kibuye Hope Hospital.

Dr. Dan Galat, a former Post-Resident who now serves in Kenya, was the lead surgeon on the team. Galat said that Amié had the worst case of Blount’s disease he had ever seen. He prayed, “God, unless you help me with this one, it won’t be pretty.”

God answered multiple prayers that day. Amié’s home church had been praying and fasting for several days for a successful operation. “It was clear that this son was truly loved, and that God brought him to this small hospital for a purpose,” Galat said. “I relaxed a little as I realized I had no choice but to somehow let God work through our feeble hands to be an answer to the faithful prayers of so many.”

Within hours, Dr. Galat and Dr. Ted John, a general surgeon currently serving at Kibuye through our Post-Residency Program, were able to straighten Amié’s legs. After a few months in casts while he recovers from surgery, he should be able to walk and run with his friends.

Amié’s case was one of the worst the orthopedic team had ever seen.

“There are times in the operating room when we can sense the presence of God with us, and this was one of those times,” Galat said. “Fixing Amié’s crooked legs required multiple cuts in multiple planes to realign, and then stabilize the bones with wires through the skin —all without the benefit of any intraoperative imaging (no C-ARM available at Kibuye). But after finishing the case, I was pleasantly surprised at how normal the legs looked. Ted John and I bumped fists as all in the room felt like we were on sacred ground. We said a prayer of healing and protection for Amié and wheeled him back to his father.”

Pastor Ntamubano said the World Medical Mission team “came like angels sent by God to rescue the life of my son. There was great joy in all my family and in the church as well.”

Amié was among 28 patients who had orthopedic surgery during the week the team was in Burundi. One man named Jonathan Ntabiriho broke his kneecap 20 years ago in a bicycle accident and has been forced to walk stiff-legged ever since. The Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him, “You will walk again.”

Orthopedic surgeons carefully review each patient’s X-rays.

“I trusted that God will help me,” Jonathan said as he recovered from surgery.

The Lord has been preparing the way for this orthopedic team for several years. Dr. Galat first came to Africa 10 years ago through our Post-Residency Program and now serves at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. Dr. David Jomo, a fourth-year resident with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) who is receiving training at Kijabe, also joined the team.

Many of the doctors serving at Kibuye Hope Hospital entered the mission field through the Post-Residency Program, including Dr. Ted John, Dr. Jason Fader (general surgery), Dr. Jesh Thiessen (general surgery), Dr. Eric McLaughlin (family practice), Dr. Rachel McLaughlin (obstetrician-gynecologist), Dr. John Cropsey (ophthalmologist), and Dr. Alyssa Pfister (internal medicine-pediatrics).

In 2016, Dr. Fader received the Gerson L’Chaim Prize from AfricanMission Healthcare and used the funds to build new operating rooms and purchase orthopedic equipment. One of the goals of the trip was to provide orthopedic training for the Kibuye surgeons.

When the World Medical Mission team arrived in March, construction was still underway. The two biomedical technicians on the team, Todd Poor and Bert Bierstedt, were immediately able to get one of the operating rooms up and running.

The Burundi team is the first group World Medical Mission has sent that specializes in orthopedic surgery. Other teams we are deploying in 2019 will specialize in urology (obstetric fistulas) and neurosurgery (hydrocephalus).

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