Fieldnotes from Peru Part 2: Emergency in the Amazon
A midnight hunting accident almost ended in tragedy. Photo by JoeLynn Daugherty.
This is part two of three in our story about the lifesaving impact of one hand-carried shipment from MedWish. If you missed part one, read it here.
JoeLynn has been a medical missionary for two decades. In the past five years, she has committed to investing her efforts within the Amazon rainforest of Peru, returning regularly not only to lead a team of dedicated medical professionals and laypeople in working with Peruvian guides to deliver medical care to remote tribes, but also to realize her dream of building a center for education and medical care. JoeLynn was a veteran on the Amazon.
Nevertheless, she and her team were unsettled when the Amazon’s waters began to recede faster than anticipated. The team had to cut their trip short and skip over villages they meant to visit. Their options were a quick exodus or the possibility of being stranded for months in the jungle. This weighed heavily on the team as they set up camp in a village a day and a half ahead of schedule. Arriving in the middle of the night, they were just settling into tents and hammocks when they heard shouts:
“Jo Jo! Get your nurses!” JoeLynn (called Jo Jo by the guides) and her team were summoned to the building next door where they found a man who had been shot in the leg with a .22-caliber gun in a hunting accident. The close-range shot had shattered his femur. Blood poured freely. The man was going into shock. Without immediate intervention, he would bleed to death.
As the team gathered to help, a doctor on the team shook his head and lamented the inevitable. “This man needs emergency surgery,” said the doctor, “and we have nothing. He is going to die.”
The doctors and nurses of Living Waters had the expertise and desire, to save the man’s life, but couldn’t do it without the right tools. JoeLynn reached into her reserve of supplies and produced the very surgical instruments she had taken from MedWish. There were sterile sutures, instruments, even IV supplies. There was no time to marvel at their good fortune, though, as JoeLynn called upon her surgical nursing skills to assist in cleaning the wound and setting the bone as best they could.
The shattered femur would still need extensive emergency surgery, necessitating a four-hour journey by boat to the city of Nauta, Peru, and then another four hours to the nearest hospital in the city of Iquitos. As the sun rose, they flagged down a passing motorboat and paid the driver to rush the man to help. There was no time to waste.