Medical missionary removes teenager's old sutures

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My most memorable patient was a teenage boy in Costa Rica who had been in a machete fight. I was on a medical mission trip. Patient lines were long, the heat was suppressive and the patients' needs greater than the energy we had and our ability to deliver care.

This teen had been sutured more one month prior and was overdue for suture removal. They ran from his upper arm, down around his fingers and were buried under scabs. The light was poor in our clinic, so the process took place outside, where patients-to-be watched and animals walked.

Without a common language to comfort the patient, I sang his name, Alejandro. Our tugs at the sutures turned into a teenager's tears and wore heavy on my heart.

Coincidentally, the wound care supplies I was using were left over from an accident that my own son had been in (no, not a machete fight). My son's name is also Alex, and this served as a reminder that each child should be treated like my own. Language is no barrier for the language of love.

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