Monday, May 14, 2012


“Do you want to come to the ICU before or after lectures?” … it is our first day at the hospital and that was the first question we were asked by the head of surgery, Dr. Ganbat. Thankfully, that is an easy one “we’ll go to the ICU”

There was a large fire in the countryside last night. It made the sunset amazing We can still smell the acrid remains in the air in Choibalsan. Three people died and two fire fighters made it to Choibalsan after being in the som (small town) hospital. They each had suffered over 50% burns with significant injury to their faces, hands, and legs. They were not making enough urine, they were not intubated, and they were being transported to the capital. It was a good warm up for us here in Choibalsan. We increased the IV fluid rate and then Dr. Rust skillfully intubated. Once their airways were secure, the patients were transported the burn center in the capital.

I might just be praying before our first lap chole ... 

After that adrenaline rush,  we started cholecystectomies. My first impression was that much had changed at the hospital. The operating suite has been upgraded and there are now three ORs where there had before been barely two. I was impressed by the team and the skills that had improved since our last visit. They communicated well with each other and showed off careful technique. I breathed a sigh of relief as two gallbladders and the resection of two lipomas from an octagenarian went without a hitch. Dr. Marohn arrived at the end of our day and our team was complete.

It is good to be back in Choibalsan. We are happy to see familiar faces in a warm and familiar hospital.  Being delayed in the capital had taken some wind out of our sails but one day in the hospital, doing what we love to do, and we were feeling like our purpose had been re-confirmed. It is good to be back. 

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