our field workers
Akin Chan Kin Wah has been on 7 missions with MSF.
During one of Akin's missions to South Sudan, a young man came to the hospital. He had been at home chopping firewood, when he accidently injured his foot, leaving a 10-cm deep wound, exposing the bone. Akin noticed that the injury had been there for some time and through talking to the patient, Akin learned that the accident had happened three days prior. “Three days?!" Akin exclaimed. "How come you didn’t come here immediately?” It turns out that this young person lived far away and had left for the hospital after the accident. He had been walking for three days in acute pain, under the scorching hot sun to get there.
Akin has been on missions with MSF in Pakistan, South Sudan and Syria, and has met a lot of patients who have had to travel a long way to receive treatment. On his missions, he regularly works in hospitals that are the only medical facility in the area, and oftentimes he is the only surgeon in the hospital.
“For those who are living in conflict zones and poverty, it is difficult to get to the hospital. Many people die on the way. So I always try my best to save every patient who makes it there,” Akin said.
Since 2012, Akin has been participating in MSF operations, often for one to two months every year.
“I am motivated by each and every story I have encountered, and the opportunity to be part of their recovery process.”
In an operation in South Sudan in 2020, a young person was sent to the hospital where Akin was based. The young person had been shot in the abdomen during a tribal conflict, and he was in critical condition. “You could even see his internal organs spilling out. At first, we were genuinely afraid that he couldn’t make it.” After fixing the patients’ intestines, Akin performed an enterostomy to create an opening in his abdomen (a stoma) to allow for the passing of waste into a stoma bag. Stoma bags must be replaced frequently, and there were very few pouches left in that hospital. Akin and his colleagues thought of many ways to make stoma bags. “We tried all sorts of methods. We even used surgical gloves, plastic bags and saline bags.” Akin said. After a month and a half, the young person recovered and could finally leave the hospital.
“When I told him he could go home, he jumped to his feet and gave everyone a hug.” Akin continued.
“At first we were afraid he couldn’t make it. But seeing him recover made me feel really happy. I was just a tiny part in his recovery journey, and it was possible only because of the whole team. It may not be plausible to tell everyone to go save lives in person, but if you would like to become part of it, donating to us is also an excellent way to help us continue our work.” Akin said.