Setting it Straight

March 27, 2015 • Republic of Congo
Miracle at Pioneer Christian Hospital

How the skills I recently learned were put to the test

Elliott Tenpenny moved to Impfondo, Republic of the Congo, last year with his wife and two sons to serve with World Medical Mission as an emergency medicine physician at Pioneer Christian Hospital.

It’s challenging to live with an obvious malformation in a society that bases much on appearance. A shy, young man and his parents recently showed up at our hospital clinic looking for help with just such a problem. Since birth, his right leg had been bent inward. He had been able to walk, but he had a limp and some mild pain.

“There is nothing you can do for him, is there?” his mother asked immediately.

Setting it Straight

This young boy had a malformation that for years had gone untreated. Most doctors didn’t know what to do. But thanks to recent training, Dr. Tenpenny was able to set the leg straight.

 

During the past few years, she had traveled with her son to a number of different government hospitals and clinics and was always told that nothing could be done for him and perhaps he would grow out of it. He was 14, and it had only gotten worse.

I may have been in the same position as these other doctors, unable to help the patient, if not for a recent experience and the help of various missionary orthopedic surgeons who are available for email consultation. I was privileged to learn the surgical treatment for this disease while visiting another Samaritan’s Purse post-resident in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The boy’s mother was visibly surprised when I told her that I could do something for him.

During the operation, we broke the bone and placed it in alignment with a large pin to hold it in place. A cast is then placed around the leg. The pin and cast are removed after a certain time to allow the bone to heal.

“Is it straight?” the boy asked when we talked after surgery.

After many years of walking on a bent leg, he had a hard time believing it was actually straight under his cast. But in just a few weeks, his cast will come off, and he will see it himself.

We thank God for allowing us the knowledge and opportunity to treat cases like this one.

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