A team of Beaumont urologists flew to Zambia last month on their seventh annual medical mission trip to provide specialty surgical care to African patients. Kenneth Peters, M.D., and Larry Sirls, M.D., headed the Beaumont team, which included surgical residents and nursing staff. Read Part One and Part Two of this blog series.
by Larry Sirls, M.D., Beaumont urologist
Several times during our trip we have lost power. We know this is the rainy season, but over the last many years we have had very few storms, occasional rains, but no big, classic storms. This year, we have had big storms every day. Huge black fronts cover half of the sky with lightning sprinkled in, coming toward us from the horizon. It’s beautiful, really. However, when the storm hits it’s raining sideways, the wind howls and there is a good chance we lose power. We lost power at least once every day, most days several times, sometimes for an hour or more.
Losing power when you are operating ranges from bad to very, very bad. If we are doing surgery with a scope that needs a light source and electrocautery, the surgery just stops right there because you can no longer see, the operating field is black. If you are doing an open surgery, you can use a battery-powered headlight and can often continue on.
We are in the southern hemisphere, it is our winter at home and I ask a local doctor if this is considered their summer. She says, “What is summer? I do not understand. We only have rain and no rain.” Well, we are in the rain, and it is hot. It is not steamy jungle hot (that you might think of as summertime Africa near the equator) because our location is on an elevated plateau, about 3,500 feet above sea level. Yet it is hot enough that when we have our surgical gowns on we sweat a lot. A lot.