Friday, June 16th

Hello, It’s Ralph,

Throughout my career, I was always interested in the possibility of international relationships where I could travel, learn of other lands and cultures and share medical knowledge.  The limiting factor was my specialty, neurosurgery.  Our field requires complex and expensive support systems that are not widely available throughout the world, and I was uncertain as to what I could offer if I did go.  Gayle convinced me to come to Mwanza in 2015 and we concentrated our efforts on spine work with Dr. Isidor.  Saying it was hard would be the extreme of an understatement.  Patients would wake up and move in the middle of delicate cervical spine surgeries, C-arms and suctions would blow-up (literally) and catch on fire, clinics were filled with hundred’s of people waiting to be seen with little access to MRI’s or other advanced imaging that is critical to decision making.  But….. the people were a precious resource that resulted in one successful surgery after another.  With this one dependable gift (the people), and God’s grace, we achieved our goal of teaching the doctors to independently do surgeries after we left.  In addition, I met a young Dr. Gerald who was in surgical training and wanted to be a neurosurgeon.  His will to sacrifice so much of his coin and personal comfort to reach his goal was inspiring.

Flash forward to 2023.  Better anesthesia, more dependable equipment, MRI’s of great quality, an advanced operative microscope and superb operative support staff.  But…. The people are still the most precious tool.  Dr Gerald is now one of THREE neurosurgeons with many bright young people in the pipeline to join their ranks.  The brain tumors we helped operate were by far some of the toughest I’ve done in my career.  I am so grateful to my Tanzanian colleagues and their skills, but am especially grateful to Dr. Matthew Johnson, my partner in neurosurgery for so many years.  Matt’s first visit was so well received that the Tanzanian team expressed a great desire for him to return. And again, ALL our patients did incredibly well without significant complications.  God is great, God is good.  Thank you God for the gift of your people to each other, every day and every where.

Hi Gayle…Well today was our last day at Bugando.  We had an evaluation with the neurosurgeons and shared a lot of great ideas on how we can move forward to help them develop the program.  Then Ralph did an educational program on strokes and procedures.   Then we had to say our good-bye, which is not good-by but until we meet again.

We had the pleasure of having dinner with the neuro staff we had been working with and some of the ortho staff.  They are awesome and expressed such gratitude for all we have done.

Thursday Mark and Alex split up and had teams of medical students, and residents do grand rounds and clinics.  They are such great teachers and all of them came and told me how much they learned and said please bring them back again.

God send me the best and these 4 surgeons did an awesome job of teaching these doctors.  It excites them and they beg us to come back.  We had to say good-bye to Will and Ralph at the airport, because they are heading home this evening. I hate good-byes, but what what an awesome team and they came to serve.  I am excited that they all expressed a desire to come back.

Thanks for the prayers.