October 15, 2013

by Jessica Westerholm, General Surgeon with World Medical Mission

Jessica, a general surgeon from Hamilton, Ontario, shares experiences from serving in Nepal with World Medical Mission, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.

I should have taken his picture, but I didn't think of it in time. The beautiful smile he flashed for me today was priceless. It was the first time I had seen him smile since I met him a couple months ago.

Five-year-old Dipesh was another one of our burn patients at Tansen Hospital. We treated him a few months ago, and I have seen him in the clinic a few times since then. Dipesh was one of those kids who screamed every time you looked at him, let alone made any move to touch him.

While in-hospital, he had been quite sick with high fevers for awhile, and we had wondered if he would make it. Many in that situation don't, but Dipesh survived and eventually went home. He still had some wounds that we thought might need grafting, but for various reasons he went home without that being done.

When I saw the child in the clinic a month later, there was still a wound that needed skin grafting, so we brought him into the hospital and did the surgery. Only some of the graft took, but we decided at that point to send Dipesh home and see him again in a month, hoping the wound would have healed, or at least gotten smaller.

Today, he returned for his check-up. As usual, the boy started crying as soon as his mother opened the door to my clinic and started to walk in. I looked at him, smiled, put my hands behind my back, and said:

"See, I'm not going to touch you. You lift up your shirt and show me."

Reluctantly, Dipesh did. The wounds were all healed, and I told him so. I asked to see his leg, which almost made him cry again, but I promised not to touch. That wound was healed as well.

When I told the little boy he didn't need another operation, he looked at me with the kind of disbelief you don't usually see in a five-year-old. And then, cautiously, Dipesh flashed me a smile.

"No more surgery, no more hospital, no more injections,” I told him. “You can go home."

Then he smiled a big smile, showing his beautiful, huge dimples in the process. I proceeded to hand him a frangipane blossom, which for some reason I had brought with me to the clinic today. They are a favorite flower of mine, and are blossoming beautifully right now. Their fragrance is amazing. When I handed it to him, he actually laughed.

His mom looked me in the eye and said, "Thank you for saving his life."

There are many days when I cry out of sadness or frustration over one patient's or another’s story. I have plenty of patients in-hospital right now who are worth shedding those kinds of tears for. But this time I shed tears of joy.

We serve, Jesus heals!