Surgeries, Amputations and A Divine Hair Appointment

Posted on Aug 13, 2012 in Faith | 69 comments

Just as Emmanuel’s surgery has transformed his life, my week at CURE Kenya has forever changed mine.  I’ve witnessed God’s compassion and love in action as never before.  Love so tangible I sensed Jesus walking through the hospital, standing alongside surgeons operating, sitting with recovering children in their ward.  As on the day of Pentecost when God’s heavenly wind blew through “the whole house,” I can easily imagine the Spirit of God swooping through every room at CURE Kenya, touching every person with His love (Acts 2:1-4).

Emmanuel’s four-part surgery was moving, to say the least–starting with the prayer.  At CURE hospitals every surgery begins with prayer, but to hear Emmanuel’s surgeon, Dr. Mailu (pictured above), pray over the sleeping baby before operating was very, very special.  Next, Dr. Mailu and his colleague Dr. Nguku stood on opposing sides of the table, both going to work on Emmanuel’s hands.  Fingers fused together were separated, and while Dr. Nguku had more intensive work on Emmanuel’s right hand, Dr. Mailu excised a skin graft from the left side of Emmanuel’s tummy.  Dr. Nguku stitched the graft onto Emmanuel’s right hand as Dr. Mailu sutured the stomach wound.

Dr. Mailu then did an “ATL release” on Emmanuel’s left foot.  The sweet child has been wearing braces for his clubfeet since days after he was born; the night before surgery, Dr. Mailu noticed the left foot hadn’t fully corrected.  An ATL release essentially cuts the tendon behind the ankle, releasing its tightness.  Without the loosening, Emmanuel would have had to walk on his toes as he grew up, unable to touch his left heel to the ground.  Not only would he have experienced chronic discomfort, he also would have had to endure the stigma attached to this condition.  Dr. Mailu’s ATL release took less than 30 seconds yet gave Emmanuel an improvement without measure in the quality of his life.

The fourth and final correction was ridding Emmanuel of the amniotic band above his left knee.  If you haven’t seen an amniotic band, imagine a baby’s chubby thigh with a rubber band so tightly hugging it that the rubber band is not visible.  Drs. Mailu and Nguku made numerous incisions at 90 degree angles to the circular band, eventually cutting it out.  My heroes then stitched the flesh back together, completely altering the look of the leg.

Most likely, without removal of the amniotic band, blood flow to Emmanuel’s lower leg eventually would have stopped, necessitating amputation.  My buddies in the Patient’s Ward–Mirriam, Abigael, Gideon and Titus–were, in fact, amputees from amniotic bands.  (All four would be having “stump revision” surgery to prepare their legs for prostheses.)  Emmanuel is indeed a blessed little boy to live in the remote, primitive village he does and have had these surgeries… especially now, at such a young age.  Thanks to CURE, he now has new hands, a new leg and new life ahead.  PRAISE GOD!

With surgery complete, my tears unexpectedly, uncontrollably came (thankfully silently, behind my surgical mask).  It’s intense watching a baby’s body transform.  I was and am so grateful.

I “scrubbed in” for other surgeries, too, wanting to “be there” for my precious new friends… in addition to Mirriam, Abigael, Gideon and Titus, I observed procedures for Winsome, Frederick and Callister.  I also watched the amputation of a little boy’s lower leg.  Another of CURE’s surgeons, Dr. Mbugua, explained to me during the unforgettable procedure why amputation was the wisest course of action for the particular condition of this sweet child’s leg.

In one week at CURE Kenya, there are MANY stories I could share.  Reflecting on the “highlights,” I realize the common denominator is JOY.  If I might share one, it would be what I fondly term “A Divine Hair Appointment….”

The morning of Emmanuel’s surgery, I visited the Patient’s Ward.  At this point I barely knew the children as I’d been away from the hospital retrieving Emmanuel.  I noticed a little girl reading her Bible and went closer to listen.  Slightly more audible than a whisper, she was ever-so-sweetly reading in broken English.  I sat down on her bed, asking if I could join her.  Her big smile said “Yes, please!” and we began reading the Gospel of John together.

Within moments we had the rapt attention of three giggling children nearby.  Confident of the answer, I asked if they’d like to be included.  I started going from bed to bed, verse by verse, helping them pronounce English words if they needed it.  After two or three rounds, as I was sitting on Winsome’s bed, the three ADORABLE others adeptly cruised over on crutches.  I could now see they were amputees; I hadn’t known, as they’d been covered in blankets.

Mirriam, Abigael and Gideon climbed aboard Winsome’s bed, and what ensued felt like THE MOST FUN slumber party I’ve ever attended!  Each loved the individual attention reading, but the giggles heightened when Winsome began “petting” my hair.  All four have very short hair and were clearly finding my long hair interesting–or at least worthy of many giggles.  Conversing in their native language, soon eight hands were petting and “arranging” my hair in a style of their choice.  Where’s a mirror when a girl needs one?!

Based on ALL of our giggles, I don’t know if I or they enjoyed the experience more, but I do believe it was a divine gift… a lavishing of God’s love.  I left the ward that morning feeling that if God had brought me to Africa ONLY for this hair appointment–only to hear these children laugh–it was completely worth it!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).


  1. Oh, Laurie, what a beautiful story. I’m so glad you went and can’t wait to see you. You must be absolutely glowing from your proximity to the living God! Amazing.

    • Thank you, Nancy–I can’t wait to see you, too! My experience truly was amazing… blessed… even dream-like now that I’m home. Part of my heart is definitely still there:) God is so, so good. And GREAT. Thank you for your prayers. See you soon:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *