Global Guardian: Michael Liske: Medical Teamwork Amid Turmoil
Michael Liske, MD first went to Kenya in 2008 on what he called an “exploratory trip,” motivated mostly by a sense of adventure. While there, he became familiarized with the city of Tenwek. As the only visiting doctor in Kenya during this initial trip, Dr. Liske saw first-hand the desperate need for medical help as a result of a bloody crisis following the country’s elections. After falling asleep to the sound of gunshots as the country’s turmoil worsened, his motivation shifted. The focus of his second trip to Kenya wasn’t about adventure. It was “to help thy neighbor.” In November 2011, Dr. Liske returned Tenwek for his fourth time. Unlike his first trip, more than a dozen other medical professionals accompanied him. Dr. Liske believes that getting all the needed professionals to Kenya at one time — medical doctors, surgeons, an anesthesiologist — remains ones of the biggest obstacles when working abroad. But when they all do come together, miracles can happen. During his most recent trip, Dr. Liske was contacted by a fellow volunteer, Dr. Nancy Wood, who was caring for a girl in the Congo. The girl had a severe heart defect and Dr. Wood needed help from the medical professionals in Kenya. “This physician sent the clinical information about this child through the mail, and we decided to have her come to Tenwek for surgical repair,” Dr. Liske said. “This little girl made the arduous journey with her parents and Dr. Wood to Kenya.” Once in the clinic, the little girl captivated Dr. Liske’s entire team. She had a life-saving operation, and did very well. She came off the ventilator shortly after her operation and had a speedy recovery. “I’m very grateful to the physician who made the special effort to provide care for this family, and to the family who entrusted us with her care, and for the staff at Tenwek Hospital who gave us the opportunity to serve in Kenya, and for Samaritan’s Purse (http://www.samaritan.org) and World Medical Mission for providing the support to make these trips possible,” Liske said. This is an example of teamwork at its best. Without the effort of the numerous individuals and organizations involved including the staff at Tenwek Hospital who provided the opportunity to serve in Kenya, and for Samaritan’s Purse and World Medical Mission for providing the support to make these trips possible, the outcome might have been very different for this child. The only problem is that she is not the only patient in Kenya who needs this kind of care. “My biggest challenge is the overwhelming medical needs in comparison with the limited time and resources to meet those needs,” Dr. Liske said. “I need to keep going back [to Kenya], and we need to continue to expand the program so more kids and young adults can get cardiac medical care.” For now, Dr. Liske and his small army of healthcare professionals, volunteers, organizers, and officials will continue to make a difference in Kenya one patient at a time.