April 2017


Meet April’s team (left to right): Cory Bond (Resp. Therapist), Heidi Hon (PGY4 Gen SURG resident, Melissa Lam (PGY3 OBGYN resident) Gail Burgey (OBGYN), Franz Yanagawa (Gen surgeon), ABBY Gotsch (MS4)


40 minutes from Philadelphia (PHL) to Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) then 7 hours to Brussels, Belgium. At Brussels, we had a little bit of a layover and so we refueled with some coffee and explored the airport shops. It was then another 5 hours to Douala. Upon entering the airbridge, there was the musty smell of body odor which became overpowering. Must be from the long journeys of all the travelers… I could begin to smell myself as well. It was a nice reprieve to stay the night at the Missions House in Douala for a shower and a night’s rest.

-Franz Yanagawa



The residents from previous years were not kidding when they said that the car trip to Mbingo is long. It’s an 8-hour ride, but I had pictured something much worse. In my mind, I thought there would be dirt roads, dusty and full of pot holes, and that we would be in an open jeep or car without air conditioning for this time. I was pleasantly surprised to ride an air conditioned van with roads that were relatively nicely paved until the last 1.5 hours of the trip. The team arrived tired and ready for a night’s rest before work tomorrow.

-Franz Yanagawa



I cannot seem to slow down. Dr. Sharpe and my mother have told me to take it easy, but take good care of patients. At first, I was just going to take call with the team, but somehow became case-hungry again and decided to be the attending on call. We got some good cases: Multiple abscesses on the leg of an HIV+ male (I&D), a pan-tenosynovitis with associated button collar abscesses (Debridement and A1, A3, A5 pulley-otomties), a retractile and necrotic right testicle in a one month old (right orchiectomy and left orchiopexy. A good start and I am told it’s standard 36 hour call here.

-Franz Yanagawa



Sitting, post-call, waiting for the last case to go. The tenosynovitis from yesterday night needs a second look. Its about 7:30 now. At 3pm, I am told that the OR team goes down to 3 rooms.


Post-case: I am sad to find that our patient will most likely need amputations of 3 fingers… at least. The palmar arch, superficial, is completely thrombosed. I will recruit the help of our plastic surgeon, Dr. Niles for some advice.

-Franz Yanagawa


4/8/2017: An Eye Opener

Today, several of us gathered to go on a hike. Mbingo is about one mile above sea level, but not blaming it on this fact, I realized I am in the worst shape of my life. The climbs are quite steep, but in my youth, I was in such good shape that I would lead the group, often running ahead then running back to check on the group. Today, I definitely kept an eye on the group… from behind.

-Franz Yanagawa


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