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LWB’s Pediatric Surgery Mission in Uganda: Dr. Situma

We hope you’ve seen the wonderful news that LWB’s very first pediatric surgery mission in Uganda will be taking place next week.  From August 30th to September 5th, our goal is for 100 extremely impoverished children to finally receive the surgeries they need.

Many of them have been waiting years for their operations, enduring daily pain that can quickly be corrected with proper medical care.  Today I would like to share the back story on how this exciting new mission project came to be.

So many of you have been part of Grace’s journey of hope. She had developed a very rare condition of having thousands of mesothelioma tumors in her abdomen.

As we were working to help her life be saved, we reached out to pediatric surgeons around the world. I received back replies asking, “Has she been seen by Dr. Martin Situma in Uganda yet?  His reputation is second to none.”

And so of course I reached out to him immediately and learned more about this remarkable man.

Dr. Situma knew he wanted to become a physician when he was still in high school, and he worked extremely hard at his studies, earning a position for medical school at Makerere University in Kampala.  Following his internship, he worked deep upcountry, where the medical needs were great and where he discovered his hands had a gift for surgery. He also realized that his heart was drawn towards helping children, but at the time there was no available training in Uganda for pediatric surgery.

Thankfully in 2010, he was offered an opportunity to go to South Africa, for a two-year pediatric surgery fellowship at the University of Capetown. He excelled in that program and was then offered a spot to do additional training in Kenya, soon earning board certification in this very specialized field. Dr. Situma is now the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. In addition, he is the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Holy Innocents Children’s Hospital, which is where the mission will be held.

It’s incredible to think that in Uganda, with a population of over 22 million children, there are still just 6 pediatric surgeons in the entire country.  Dr. Situma is instrumental in helping to train the next generation.

I have always loved how trying to help just one child can go on to impact hundreds more. In trying to help beautiful Grace get the operation she needed, we connected with Dr. Situma and quickly saw his heart for helping children find healing. He arranged for all the testing and medical information needed for Grace to travel to Belgium for her complex surgery. I was so happy when we then began discussing how we could help even more children in-country, whose poverty has kept them from the medical care they desperately need.

When we first started planning for a pediatric surgery mission, I had suggested that 50 children might be a good goal.  Dr. Situma was dreaming even bigger, letting us know that well over 100 children need surgery as quickly as possible. You know we always love working with people who dream big, which is why this first Ugandan mission has a pretty audacious goal.

Holy Innocents Hospital is partnering with us next week, giving the medical team an entire ward. They’ve also greatly discounted their OR and hospital rates to help as many children as possible receive surgery.

If you’d like to be a part of this special week of healing (which coincides with the 17th anniversary of LWB’s founding), we have three great ways to help.

1)     We want to give every child coming to the mission a special care pack, which will include bedding and a mosquito net, along with a toy.  Your gift of $17 will provide one pack to a child.

2)    If you would like to sponsor one child’s complete surgery and care pack, you can do that with a gift of $117.  (Hooray for the great discount the hospital has given us).

3)     You can make a gift of ANY amount, which will be combined with others to ensure all 100 children will receive the operations they need.

Dr. Situma wanted to share this special message with everyone playing a part in this mission:

I would like the donors to know that for each amount they give, they are changing the destiny of a child for the better. Nothing is too small or too big when given with a willing heart. May God bless them. I personally thank them on behalf of our team and the children who will benefit.

We will be blogging next week about this tremendous week of healing and invite you to follow along.  We all hope it will be the first of many outreach efforts to ensure that Uganda’s most vulnerable children receive the medical care they need to thrive.

~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer

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