Fieldset
Machete wounds and other injuries at an MSF trauma centre

At the L'Arche de Kigobe trauma centre in Burundi, anaesthetist Kariantti is called into emergency surgery after an influx of patients with violent trauma injuries. He also shares some good news about two young burns patients... 

A surgical intervention underway at L'Arche de Kigobe trauma centre in Bujumbura, Burundi

Things have been busier lately. One night, we received three new patients who had been attacked with machetes. 

One of the patients, a 30-year-old man, had been hit in the head and face. Although the cuts were deep, he luckily had no perceivable skull fracture or brain trauma and was otherwise in a stable condition. 

He still needed an emergency operation during the night to clean and close the wounds. The operation went well and afterwards he was transferred to the intensive care unit for surveillance.

By morning, the man was already well awake and doing fine, his only problem being his elevated blood sugar levels since he was also a diabetic. 

A positive outcome

Otherwise, in the hospital, things were pretty much the same. 

At the beginning of the week, we were able to discharge several patients, while many remained, including the two children with burns. Happily, both of them were doing well.

The younger one, aged 12 months, was recovering from his bizarre infection and his wounds were healing, so we were able to discharge him later in the week.

Despite his painful wounds and recurring operations, he was always happy to see us, smiling, bouncing a balloon made from a rubber glove and giving us high-fives – a real heartbreaker 

The older boy, aged five, was also improving and after numerous cleanings of his wounds we were finally able to do a skin graft for him. But the real story is the boy himself.

Despite his painful wounds and recurring operations, he was always happy to see us, smiling, bouncing a balloon made from a rubber glove and giving us high-fives – a real heartbreaker. Happy days! 

A long road to recovery 

The man with severe brain trauma was somewhat better as well.

He had been transferred to a normal ward some time ago after regaining consciousness. But, unfortunately, the right side of his body was paralysed and he was having problems eating.

To make matters worse, we suspected his maxillary bone in his upper jaw was fractured, although the x-ray was clean.

For all of this, he would need a lot of physiotherapy, which we couldn’t give since he still had a fractured femur that needed to be kept stabilised.

The man's recovery was a long road and an uncertain one. He would most likely be left with at least some neurological deficits and that would be difficult to cope with in these circumstances.

We finally located his family and contacted them and some days later they arrived at the hospital and asked for a transfer to another institution elsewhere in Burundi.

The next day his bed was already occupied by a new patient. 

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