The girl was not healing. Surgery after surgery, the doctors were having trouble pinpointing the cause. Something had to be done, but what? Read more to find out how a how God worked to heal her and what you can do today to help.
Story and photos by Dylan and Jessica Nugent, missionaries in Kenya:
“Four months ago, I told you about a little girl who broke her leg and both arms near her shoulders. She had been hit by a motorcycle while walking in the street and had a mild head injury to go with her orthopaedic injuries. I had never seen this injury constellation, and I shared her pre-op images along with her post-op x-rays showing a technically great result. Her shoulders were pinned through tiny incisions and her femur was fixed in anatomic position with plates and screws.
“As a young healthy girl, she would get the pins out in 4-6 weeks, start walking with crutches, and go back to school and pick up life where she left off as if nothing ever happened. High fives all around, right? Wrong.
“Two days after her first surgery, drainage started around her pins – not unusual after a few weeks, but a few days? Antibiotics were started to fend off any deep infections. The drainage persisted and her thigh wound had a small pocket of drainage too. She went back to OR for a thorough scrubbing of the wounds. The drainage continued. More antibiotics. More surgery. Eventually, her shoulders healed enough that we could remove the pins and the suspected avenue for the infection in the first place.
“The thigh wound was clean and was healing and we were ready to send her home. Before she could leave, the thigh wound opened again and this time, the shiny metal plate was protruding through the skin with thick greenish discharge around it. More surgery. More antibiotics. The plate was removed, but one screw remained that held one of the fragments together, and she was placed in a cast to protect the rest of the weakened bone. Within a few weeks, the bone fragment began protruding from the wound! More surgery. More antibiotics. This time the last screw and fragment of dead bone were removed and the wound was thoroughly washed again.
“The latest x-ray after removing all the metal from the thigh. There is abnormal looking bone, but it is healing despite the bone no longer being straight.”
“Now the wound is healing well, and she is ready to go home again. Though she never looked sick and her labs were relatively normal, she has needed a total of six additional surgeries and has spent 1/3 of this year in the hospital. Her medical bill is far beyond the ability of her family to pay, and it is up to the hospital administration to decide when and how to release her despite her bill.
“This is not how she planned for her year to go. This is certainly not how I planned her recovery course to go. It has been one of those mysteries of medical care – doing the best thing possible in the best way possible, and things still go sideways. I have prayed countless times for her healing and countless times I have ruminated about why she had such a tough road: could it be nutrition? A contaminated set in the original surgery? A non-infectious allergic reaction to the metal?
“I may never know, but despite all the trails and pain, one thing I do know is, we have become great buddies over her time here, and I wonder more about what her future holds than her medical history. When she finally leaves the hospital will I get to see her again and give her my routine of high fives and arm-jiggling handshakes? Will her leg heal and allow her to live a fully functional life? Who will she become? As much as I will miss her shy smile that I try to pry out of her on rounds each day, there is nothing I want more for her than to see her walk out of the hospital and never come back (except for clinical follow-ups), so that she can live her life to the fullest.
“If you would like to help send this little girl home by supporting our compassionate fund for orthopaedic patients at Tenwek please go online to www.wgm.org/compassionate-orthopedic-care or send a gift to our ministry account at www.wgm.org/nugent and send us a note that it is for her.”
“The smile on my face masks the mental anguish I often feel when I think about the suffering this little girl has endured over the last four months.”
“A smile I will miss greatly.”