Friday, February 17, 2012

The Lab - Bethany Village

This week, I worked in the lab at Bethany Clinic. I diagnosed malaria, tested blood sugar, performed HIV tests, and prepared blood slides. Prior to my week at Bethany, Jared and I trained in the lab at Wentz Medical Center. Gilbert, the lab technician, taught us how to find malaria parasites with a microscope and how to preform tests for HIV, blood sugar, and urine analysis. The team I worked with consisted of Andrew: 2.5 years of lab experience and lab technician at Wentz, Jared: 2.5 hours of lab experience,  Jessica: 0.0 hours of lab experience and frightened by needles, and myself: 2.5 hours of lab experience. Our small team would need to adapt quickly and work hard in order to serve the people of Bethany. 
On day 1 of the medical mission, the lab was not operational due to a lack of manpower and supplies, so I will not talk about it. Day 2, we had a microscope, 100 HIV test strips, and butterflies in our stomachs; we were ready to face the onslaught of patients lined up in front of us. Initially, Andrew did a lot of the work while Jessica and I watched. Andrew told me to look at the blood slides for malaria while Jessica learned how to draw blood. I would check a slide and tell Andrew if it was positive or negative; he would then double check to make sure I was correct.

Jessica was very nervous on her first blood draw (understandable because any of the blood we were working with could be HIV positive), but she was soon drawing blood like she had actually been to medical school.

After lunch, Andrew told me that he would no longer double check me on malaria slides ( I was so afraid that I might miss a parasite and give a false negative, and a false negative would deny treatment and possibly kill the person I was testing).

After an entire day of stress and fear, I found one case of malaria. Finding this malaria reassured me that I had been diagnosing people correctly and was a major boost to my confidence in the lab. The final tally on day 2 consisted of 5 positive HIV tests and 2 cases of malaria.
On day 3, we arrived with more confidence in our ability to work as a team. This new-found confidence allowed us to hit the ground running and we began work immediately.  Jessica drew blood, Jared did finger pricks, and I worked on malaria slides.  By mid morning Jared and I learned to draw blood and Jessica could find malaria with a microscope. Our team gained a large amount of experience and the work we did renewed my interest in the medical field. The final tally on day 3 was: 2 HIV positives and 4 malaria positives.

I personally would like to thank the lab team for their hard work and courage while facing the risk of infectious disease.  I want to say thank you to all of our supporters in the United States for all of their support through prayer and financial aid. Thank you for helping to provide medical care to over 400 people.



  1. So proud of you Jake! You can draw my blood anytime! Lol

  2. Im proud of you too Jake, but I dont think I need any blood draws right now :-) Glad you are getting some invaluable experience no matter what line of work you decide to go into.