As I walked into the operating room to do a cesarean section on a young mother, I was surprised that she was already requesting a bilateral tubal ligation. In a culture where children are important, and many children are considered a blessing, it was surprising. And I wanted to try and understand why she wanted permanent sterilization. As I reviewed her chart I noted that she was HIV positive. This is common in Kenya. As one surgeon colleague has said, “Everyone has HIV!” That is an exaggeration, but sometimes
it feels very true. It made me sad to look at her and to know she carried this burden. She was fortunate, because with her anti-viral medication her disease is in a sort of remission. This means she is less likely to pass it to her child or her husband. Yet it is hard for a young woman to know that she has an incurable disease. There is compassion to give in these cases. A friendly touch, a word of encouragement to do our best to keep her and her baby safe, and a prayer before surgery may sometimes be all we can offer. I try and do my best to do for her as I would want her to do for me if our positions were reversed. I am thankful that I can be part of God’s work to care for the least of these in Kijabe Mission Hospital. God has been good to us, and we try our best to extend that good to others.