In October 2016, Operation Broken Silence launched the Heart of Nuba Campaign, an online fundraising movement focused on supporting Mother of Mercy Hospital in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. This is a brief update about Dr. Tom, the hospital, and your progress so far.
People in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan have been living in emergency conditions since June of 2011, when the government of Sudan launched a relentless campaign of terror and death against their communities. The Sudanese government has officially banned all aid and media organizations from the Nuba Mountains in an attempt to cover it’s crimes. The deteriorating situation here has become a forgotten conflict for much of the world. Click or tap the map for a visual.
In the warzone sits Mother of Mercy hospital, one of the only medical facilities in the region. This life-saving facility is led by American Dr. Tom Catena and a small local staff. Dr. Tom and the Sudanese staff refuse to leave and do their best to save lives in the midst of carnage and terror, treating as many as 400 patients a day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Access to basic medical supplies is extremely limited and the hospital is frequently in financial crisis. The hospital depends entirely on fundraising and donations to treat the wounded and train the staff.
Heart of Nuba Campaign Update
The Heart of Nuba Campaign is the official online fundraising effort of The Heart of Nuba film, a feature-length documentary about Dr. Tom and the staff at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Funds raised through the Heart of Nuba Campaign go to supporting the amazing work being done everyday at the hospital. You can watch this short video to learn more:
Fundraising Update and Message
To date, 14 fundraisers and 2 fundraising teams have raised almost $24,000 from 118 donors through their fundraising pages. So far, $19,000 of these funds you have already raised have been sent to the hospital! Great work!
Here's a recent update from Dr. Tom himself:
In our line of work at the Mother of Mercy Hospital we are often faced with difficult decisions regarding how much ‘care’ to give a patient. We always have to ask the question – will this medicine or operation really benefit the patient, or am I doing this to satisfy something within myself? When is it better to withhold chemotherapy for a cancer patient and just opt for palliative care? Is it better to spare this person an operation that has limited chance of success or go ahead and try hoping to give him or her a chance at a cure or a better life? The patients think we have all of the answers and that our decisions are straightforward.
However, it is more likely to be an ethical challenge with far more gray than black and white as we face these dilemmas on a nearly daily basis. With our limited staffing and expertise, the decision usually has to be made alone and with a paucity of information.
I’d like to give you an example of such a case which came to us last month. The boy’s name is Kuku, a newborn baby with several congenital birth defects. He had, to name a few, hydrocephalus (excess water in the brain), spina bifida, anal prolapse (when the last part of the intestine doesn’t remain in the body), and a deformed foot.
I had to wrestle a bit with this decision – should we start trying to correct the multiple deformities with a chance that the operations might succeed, or should we just advise the mother that the baby has too many problems and she should just take him home?
If we did nothing, the baby’s head would continue to expand and he would be unable to control it. As the head reached the size of a soccer ball, he would develop pressure wounds that would never heal. They would become infected and he would likely die from the infection. The delicate large swelling on his back (from the spina bifida) would also enlarge and then rupture, draining spinal fluid. This open communication between the spinal fluid and the outside world would lead to meningitis. Sadly, these dire outcomes are the norm for children born with these defects in most parts of rural Africa as there are few institutions able to handle these problems. Given all of these probable eventualities, I thought it better to proceed with the series of operations and see how things would turn out.
The first operation we did was a ventriculo-peritoneal shunt where we placed a tube into the pool of water in the middle of the brain and ran it under the skin and into the abdomen where the fluid is absorbed. The operation went well although we had to replace the tube after a couple of weeks. The next problem was anal prolapse, whereby the rectum and anus would continually come out and need to be manually put back in place. A quick operation where we sewed a stitch around the anus took care of that problem. The final issue was the spina bifida, which we repaired by opening the sack on his lower back and gently moving the tethered spinal cord back into its covering.
The operations went well and we discharged Kuku a few days ago. In the process of deciding what to do with this patient, it forced me to think about the value of each life. In the US, which albeit has far more resources than we have here, this baby would certainly have had all of these operations. If we truly value each life before us, why should we do any differently here? Do we truly believe that the value of a baby born in the remote Nuba Mountains is equal to that of a baby born in the US?
Through your generous donations, we are getting more and more well-trained staff to help carry out some of these more complex operations. With your support we can try to treat the people here in a way consistent with their status as fellow children of God.
Our hospital is currently facing a financial crisis. In order to keep providing excellent care for the people of the Nuba Mountains, we need money to pay staff and send staff off for training. On behalf of the staff at the Mother of Mercy Hospital and the people of the Nuba Mountains, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to our donors.
The people of Sudan are overcoming two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: war and genocide. Operation Broken Silence is working to accelerate their ability to generate lasting change through storyelling and movement building, education and emergency response, and grassroots advocacy programs. Here's three ways you can help support Dr. Tom and Mother of Mercy Hospital:
1. Give Monthly. This is the best and easiest way to support the lifesaving work being done every day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. You can play a huge role in their work by joining The Renewal, which is our monthly recurring giving program. LEARN MORE »
2. Start Fundraising. You can start a personal fundraising page for the Heart of Nuba Campaign and ask your friends and family to give. This is an excellent way to support these classrooms and get your community involved as well. START FUNDRAISING »
3. Give. If you're not ready to make a monthly giving or fundraising commitment yet, making a one-time donation to the hospital is the perfect next step for you. GIVE HERE »