Millions of people are left dead or disabled by surgical complications each year when one simple piece of kit could have saved them. For Mosaic, Jane Feinmann discovers how it has helped transform medicine in Mongolia. Her story is republished here under a Creative Commons license.
Gundegmaa Tumurbaatar glimpsed her son only for an instant as he was carried into the aging Soviet-built hospital where she works. It was one of the first fine days after the grueling Mongolian winter, and she had left Gunbileg, aged three, and his older brother playing outside, telling them to be careful. Now, he was moaning in pain and covered from head to toe in filth and blood. A passer-by had brought Gunbileg to the hospital after seeing the two boys trying to jump over an open manhole above a sewer—watching in horror as the younger boy had fallen into the jagged pit on his abdomen. By the time Gundegmaa saw him, he was in shock, his belly frighteningly distended, an internal hemorrhage putting him at imminent risk of cardiac arrest.
She learned the details of his injuries later: his spleen, the delicate fist-sized organ that sits just below the ribs and which acts as a blood filter as part of the immune system, was ruptured. “His tummy must have caught on something sharp inside the hole in the ground,” she says. But she didn’t need to be told how serious this was. As soon as she saw him, Gundegmaa, a midwife at the hospital, knew that this was a potentially fatal internal injury. Suddenly, the life she and her husband, Batsaikhan Batzorig, had created with such effort looked about to turn to dust.
Source: The little yellow box that has made thousands of operations safer | Ars Technica