Happy New Year family and friends!
December 2022 was bittersweet since we traveled to Nigeria to bury my father Inlaw, Mr. WMC Osuji, who died in Los Angeles after a brief illness. We gave him a very nice burial befitting of a king! May his soul rest in peace. God’s grace was upon us for journey mercies and there was no security issues.
Despite my hectic schedule and many activities, I was visited daily in the village by people seeking free medical care, which was not in my itinerary. Daily they will come to my village house as early as 6 AM and wait as long as it took to get seen. I ended up attending to about 100 people on different days throughout my stay, examining them, giving medications, medical advice, physical therapy, and even doing three urgent operations on two patients, all for free as usual. I hereby share some special moments.
Two men with incarcerated hernias came to see me and needed urgent surgeries. One had left inguinal hernia and neurological problems, while the other was a frail 86 years old with two ventral hernias.
They both were high risk and I didn’t have anesthesia personnel. I informed them that I could perform the surgeries under Local anesthesia, to which they consented. Next challenge was finding a hospital to do the cases ASAP. I reached out to my good friend and colleague, Dr. Chikwendu Ejike, who graciously agreed for me to operate in his Galaxy British Hospital, Owerri, Nigeria, the next day, December 28, 2022.
I was able to safely repair the hernias with mesh under local anesthesia alone (challenging), and was assisted by a nurse from the hospital and my niece, Nurse Nneoma Iwe. Both patients did great and continue to do well to date. See attached photos and videos.
I also saw a patient in his 50s who had a stroke with right sided weakness and bed bound for several months. Upon examination I noticed that he had sensation and some muscle function on that side. With the help of my nephew, Nurse Sop Iwe, we got him up to walk with support. It became obvious that what he needed was intensive physical therapy, which should enable him to walk independently or with a cane within 3-6 months! The following week I brought him a brand new Walker and showed him how to use it, instructed his caregiver, gave medicines to both, and money for food and to hire physical therapy help. They were happy; to God’s glory. I will follow up on his progress.
I attended to an elderly man (a mentor) with right facial paralysis who was told he had a stroke with no treatment. After thorough History that revealed right ear and facial pain prior to the facial paralysis, and Physical Exam (I hope medical students and Residents are paying attention), I determined that he had Bell’s Palsy (facial nerve paralysis) not a stroke. I prescribed tapering Prednisone (steroid) treatment and Zovirax. He continues to improve.
Another interesting case was a vibrant 10 year old boy who recently developed abnormal gait, ataxia, and imbalance. His MRI showed evidence of Dandy Walker Syndrome. I referred him to a Neurologist and advised the parents that Neurosurgeon may be needed in the future if hydrocephalus worsens.
The medical needs are numerous but there are few providers. Reminds me of what Christ said “ the harvest is plenty but the laborers are scarce.”
My prayer and goal is that God will help us get the resources to build a clinic/hospital there and train healthcare workers to do the labor and take care of His people in a quality and sustainable manner. You can see more of what we do at www.chimamedicalmissions.com and help in any way the Holy Spirit directs you.
We also had some fun in the midst of the above, celebrated Christmas with family and friends in the village (unique experience more exciting than celebration in the US), attended weddings, my aunt’s Golden Jubilee, birthdays, Chieftaincy titles, Farm, Football (soccer) games, and made significant financial donations to local churches.
My 14 year old son became famous in the village because he brought his skateboard home to children who had never seen one, taught them how to skate (very fast learners) and even left his favorite skateboard for them when we left. My oldest daughter also had a great time as we celebrated her birthday there. She went shopping and to the movies too. Am glad they came along since this was their first visit to Nigeria since the pandemic. They had a chance to brush up on their Igbo language and gain appreciation for the challenges in the country.
Final highlight for me was the Reunion with my High School classmates (Government Secondary School Owerri, Class of 1983) some of whom I had not seen in 39 years!
I even attended to some of them medically and gave some medications, of which pain meds were the most popular. We were happy to see one another on December 30, 2022, reminisced about the years when we were boys and the challenges of becoming men. We remembered and honored those we have lost along the way, and agreed to meet yearly.
We thank God who has given us the humility and spirit to serve, protected all of us and pray that He makes 2023 better!
Cliff Eke, MD, FACS, FICS
“Ogwudire Oha Nile”
Founder/CEO Chima Medical Mission INT’L