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213 Children Healed in Uganda: Our Latest Pediatric Hernia Mission

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Last week, a team of 26 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical staff came together at Nebbi General Hospital in northern Uganda for our February 2024 Pediatric Hernia Mission — and it was an amazing week of hope and healing.

Just imagine — 213 surgeries in five days! Tonight, so many children will sleep pain-free while their parents and caregivers no longer worry or feel guilty they can’t help their children.

Smiling mother holds her baby at a Ugandan hospital

Why are Pediatric Hernia Missions Important?

Missions like this pediatric hernia mission are life-changing for these families. Without them, children go without the care they need.

To ensure basic health services, the World Health Organization recommends a benchmark of 1 doctor per 1,000 people. Uganda falls far short of this benchmark with approximately 1 doctor per 10,000 people in urban areas and closer to 1 doctor per 130,000 in rural areas like Nebbi. The lack of medical care available, along with the inability to pay for treatment, results in people suffering for years from conditions that are routinely treated in other countries.

Young girl holds a baby while sitting on the ground

In the weeks leading up to our pediatric hernia mission, our nurses and social workers hit the pavement to distribute flyers, visit hospitals to inform their staff of the event, and even spread the news over the radio. In Uganda, broadcasting by radio is one of the most effective ways to reach the public, and it certainly helped us to get the word out about this mission. Over 150 children were pre-registered for surgery…and even more showed up the week of the mission!

Registration at a pediatric hernia mission in Uganda

The surgical team, led by Dr. Charles Odongo, completed 213 life-changing pediatric hernia surgeries in just five days for children suffering from painful hernias. Isn’t that incredible?

Ugandan operating room with three medical professionals performing surgery

Because this was the first pediatric hernia mission we have held in this remote northern region of Uganda, we expected the need would be great. Several children who came for surgery on the first day were diagnosed with malaria. Thankfully, they were able to have their surgeries and are now getting the malaria treatment they need as well. Other little patients showed up in need of heart surgeries as well as a child with an unrepaired cleft lip. We are working to help these children in the weeks ahead.

Sick Ugandan child in orange shirt at pediatric hernia mission

Spotlight on 4 Kids who had Pediatric Hernia Surgery

Four-year-old Shadrac lives with his mother, father, and three siblings in a village about an hour away from Nebbi. His mother and father are peasant farmers and are only able to provide for the family’s most basic needs.

Boy in bright orange shirt waiting at hospital

At one-month-old, Shadrac developed a painful hernia and had surgery around the time of his first birthday. Unfortunately, the hernia recurred two months later. This time, his mother tried to treat Shadrac with herbal medicine, but it provided no relief. When she heard an announcement on the radio that there would be an upcoming hernia mission in Nebbi, she was thrilled and made sure Shadrac was on the surgery list. Following his successful operation, Shadrac’s mom was hopeful that her son’s hernia would be healed permanently so he no longer has to suffer.

Jonella is in primary Grade 1 and loves school. Like her older brother, she was born with an umbilical hernia. When Jonella was four years old, she began experiencing abdominal pain. The surgeon who had previously operated on her brother had relocated to another town, and Jonella’s parents felt uncomfortable taking her to another facility for surgery. Poor Jonella’s hernia went untreated for three more years and her pain continued to worsen.

Worried about their daughter’s health, Jonella’s mother was over the moon when she heard about the hernia mission. Jonella’s umbilical hernia was successfully repaired, and now her days of constant pain are behind her.

Ugandan girl in an orange shirt smiles in front of a hospital

When Samson lost both of his parents at a very young age, he went to live with his grandmother. When she could no longer care for him, Samson’s older brother took him in. Samson was born with a painful inguinal hernia, and his brother and his wife worried about how they would ever get the money needed for surgery. Without the means to pay for the operation, their only option was to take him to the hospital for treatment whenever the pain became unbearable.

Boy in bright orange shirt in front of trees

When the couple learned about the pediatric hernia mission from a neighbor, they were delighted! Samson had his inguinal hernia repaired and is so happy that he no longer has to live with pain.

Like Samson, Elisha is also an orphan. When his parents died last year, his older sister took on the role of caregiver. She has children of her own and supports her family through farming. Born with a hernia, Elisha has been in and out of pain relief clinics all of his life.

Young boy in orange shirt stands in front of trees

His sister spends what little extra money they have on medicine to treat his pain. She found out about the hernia mission through an announcement on the radio and was thrilled that her little brother would be able to receive the help that he needed at last.

Gratitude for the Pediatric Hernia Team in Uganda

Traveling long distances and coming to a hospital for surgery can be a very scary experience. So our Uganda team worked hard to put the children at ease before their operations. A few jokes and some bubbles were just what the doctor ordered!

Man in blue shirt blowing bubbles to children waiting for pediatric hernia surgery

Each child also received a new blanket, backpack, and toy. These gifts helped take the children’s minds off of their upcoming surgeries.

Four girls in orange shirts receive blankets and backpacks

We deeply appreciate our wonderful Ugandan staff who worked so hard before, during, and after the pediatric hernia mission!

An absolutely gigantic and heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to the medical staff who brought hope and healing to these children and their families. We are grateful to Dr. Charles Odongo for leading his medical team on this life-changing mission.

Ugandan surgical team of 7 doctors

This pediatric hernia mission provided relief from pain and hope for the future for these families, most of whom are struggling to provide food for their children and a roof over their heads. We are truly blessed to have so much support for our Uganda Medical Care program!

Ugandan boy in orange shirt with boy at LWB pediatric hernia mission

As a footnote to this blog, Dr. Odongo performed surgery on a child with a perforated bowel who had been in the hospital for a week. The hospital did not have a pediatric surgeon in residence who could perform that operation, so the timing was a real blessing as it saved the child’s life.

Baby wearing a bright orange t-shirt crawling on the ground

Let’s hear it for a new total of 214 children healed!

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