Surgical Camp Overview
For the past four years, a team of highly experienced surgeons and medical staff from Peterborough Hospital have been coming to Uganda to support the work of the Chilli Children Project and Kisiizi Hospital. They work alongside Ugandan medical staff at Kisiizi Hospital, to train, encourage and support their work with children with disabilities. During the week-long camp, around 20 Chilli children are operated on - receiving life saving and/or life changing surgery. Others receive counselling, physiotherapy, occupational therapy or referrals to other appropriate hospitals.
'Camp week' is a joyful time where not only are children receiving transformative surgeries, but friendships are formed between parents, children are socialising sometimes for the first time, and a group of often hopeless people come together to form a family in which everyone belongs and everyone is loved.
In the weeks prior to a camp, Chilli project staff spend a number of days in communities across the four districts in which they operate, to identify children suitable for the camp. Guaranteed that double the children will turn up on day 1 of the camp than were registered, but that's okay! We receive all!
Surgical Camp 23rd April - 1st May 2019
Day 1 - Tuesday
Brian Fleming and Emily Braybrook (Project trustees) travelled to Kisiizi Hospital on Tuesday 23rd April, one day before the UK team's arrival. They were full of excitement about the upcoming camp. A 'small clinic' began at around 7pm run by Dr Robert (assessing each child, diagnosing, sending some for x-rays, referring some to a paediatrician etc). Clinic finished at 10.30pm!! Around 20/50 children were assessed during this clinic, and two booked in for surgery tomorrow (day 2).
Day 2 - Wednesday
The UK team landed in Kigali this morning! We are still eagerly awaiting their arrival at Kisiizi (3pm!!)
Dr Robert and his colleague completed clinic this morning. They saw a further '30 something' children who now all have PLANS FOR TREATMENT! - Some here at the camp this week, and others at later dates/in other hospitals. (Time is limited this week, so not all children can be worked on.) Following an intense few hours assessing children, Dr Robert then headed into theatre to work on Patricia and Richard, both with club foot (see pictured below)
Day 3 - Thursday
What a (rainy) day!!
The team arrived yesterday afternoon to a warm and sunny Kisiizi. In the evening, Dr Mark and Dr Robert ran a small clinic to select children for surgery on Thursday and Friday.
This morning began with a small chapel service from 8-8.30am which happens daily at Kisiizi Hospital. From there, the team ran another lower limb orthopedic clinic along with local Kisiizi staff. They then headed into theatre to support the surgery of Witness, who has severe genu varus.
While surgery for Witness was underway, Dr Jonathan and Dr Robert ran a hand clinic, where they saw a number of children with some exceptionally rare and complex cases. Three have been scheduled for surgery over the coming days - keep an eye out for more updates!
This afternoon, Treasure (genu varus) and Nazite (club foot) also had surgery.
Readers - these surgeries are LIFE CHANGING. These children are 4, 6, 8, 10.. years old. The cost of these type of orthopedic surgeries is completely unaffordable to the majority of Ugandan families. Some have waited years in hope, waiting for this kind of opportunity to come along.
We don't always have photos, but throughout the year the Chilli Children Project sends children, like you have seen above, to specialist hospitals across Uganda, so that their conditions might be corrected to give them the best chance at a productive, inclusive life.
PLEASE consider becoming a regular supporter to give life changing opportunities to children. No NHS, and abnormally high costs of medical care vs the average wage means that without you, these children have little hope of the intervention they need. With you, their lives can be transformed.
See you tomorrow!
Day 4 - Friday
There was a plan of three children being operated upon today - two lower limb cases and one upper limb (extra digit removal). Mission accomplished!! (Unfortunately I didn't get a 'before' photo of the child with extra digits!)
Day 5 - Saturday
Today I (Emily) and Evas had the privilege of being in the theatre and watching some of the surgeries (fabulous experience!). Brian said he would fall on the floor and need resuscitating if he was to enter theatre! so instead he made up beds in the children's ward, ready for children who were coming out of surgery! (here is photo evidence..)
These children were operated on today (genu varus and osteomylitis)
Day 6 - Sunday
Today was a well and much deserved day of rest... starting with church this morning, then a lovely invitation to lunch at Dr Ian and Hanna Spillman's house. I was delighted to see pineapple crumble and custard served up for dessert!
Dr Mark ran a small clinic this afternoon to see the final few children who arrived late to the camp. Dr Jonathan has been busy preparing for a Hand Trauma Course he is running on Tuesday, and Fransisco and Vicky did the famous Kisiizi Falls ziplining!
We also had a very special visitor today. Moses Bobi has been with the project since he was young and he is now a wonderful young man sitting his O Levels. He has osteogenesis imperfecta and Dr Mark has kindly been keeping up to date with his condition and offering advice where appropriate. Moses came over to Kisiizi today to say hi to the whole team, and also to show Dr Mark his recent xrays.
A wonderful day and very ready for the final busy day of theatre tomorrow.
Day 7 - Monday
Today was the final day of surgery!! Tomorrow the team, led by Dr Jonathan will run a Hand Trauma Course for orthopedic officers and medics across the region.
Some of the children who were operated on in the earlier days of the camp were allowed to leave the paediactric ward and move to Rehab where they will spend the next 4-8 weeks recovering. Brian helped to move some of the children with hospital wheelchairs he described as 'held together by chewing gum and bits of string' - certainly not a smooth journey from the ward to rehab!!
Jones was also monitoring the children in plaster today. It seems much easier to do it from the top of a slide!! The children become slightly more willing!
Dr Jonathan assisted with removing extra digits from this gorgeous little baby a couple of days ago. Here he is reviewing and changing the dressings. Baby wasn't fazed at all, in fact she was positively delighted!
Finally to end an exciting and busy day, Fransisco set up the annual 'Kisiizi Film Nights' for the children.
The children who are moved from paediatric ward to Rehab can get a bit whiny especially in the evenings when they are in pain. We set up a projector onto a sheet, the children pile onto mattresses and are in AWE at the mini cinema. Lion King, Pocohontas, Toy Story, and a few Haribos... went down an absolute treat.
Day 8 - Tuesday
Today was fabulous. The UK medical team worked together brilliantly to deliver lectures, teaching and practicals to over 40 orthopedic medical staff from across the region. A lot of fun was had, and more importantly a lot was learnt to improve the management of hand trauma wounds in western Uganda,
Evas, our Occupational Therapist also delivered a great lecture on Hand Therapy.
Day 9 - Wednesday
The final morning! :( It was an extremely emotional morning for a number of us, Brian and myself included!
Here are some photos taken this morning, and a few of my final thoughts, to sum up a fabulous, life changing, unforgettable week.
"My heart hurts and is full in equal measure that this week has come to an end.
I always say that Chilli Children Kisiizi Surgical Camp is one of my favourite weeks of the year. I think this year has trumped them all.
The UK medical team: you sacrifice a week of annual leave, you pay your own way, to come and serve US, Chilli Children Project and Kisiizi Hospital. Thank you for your compassion, your skills, your long days and tireless efforts. You change the world.
Donors: thank you for thinking of us, for choosing us. Thank you for making this camp possible through your financial gifts.
Kisiizi Hospital & staff: you welcome us, you support and help us and you make this so enjoyable and so possible.
Chilli Children team: you work tirelessly to identify children for camp, you also leave your families for a week to serve some of the most vulnerable children in your communities.
Parents: you bring your children based on trust and hope, not knowing what to expect but loving your children and hoping for a chance.
But kids, this is for you. You are so loved. Your stories will be shared with awe and wonder. My heart is bursting with the joy of seeing you walk into the camp on day 1, unsure of what’s going on and generally terrified of Mzungu’s, to a week later seeing your little legs straight, a tentative smile on your faces, a new sparkle in your eyes.
If I could live 1,000 different lives I would choose this one, with all of you, every time.
Here’s to life, in all its fullness"