Saturday, May 25, 2019

Heart surgery on my heart???

As the sun comes up over the mountains of western Uganda, I sit on the porch with a French press of Eote coffee enjoying my last Saturday in one of my favorite places.  We have an off day today, but my “inner Due” alarm clock went off early this morning.  My mind started thinking about the mechanics and logistics of the coming week.  When I last blogged, we had completed 2 out of our 6 clinics and we had 24 patients scheduled for eye operations.

On Monday and Tuesday, we had relatively light volume clinics in Ishaka and Sanga.  Between these two clinics we saw about 375 patients and signed up 14 people for eye surgery. The Due Unto Others team has been to Ishaka several times in the past.  
Jayne and our Ishaka TOP Crispus.

We have come to love their church and feel that we are a part of it.  Due Unto was there in 2014, the days before they launched the church in a tent.  Now they are about to celebrate their 5th birthday!  We had never been to Sanga before. Sanga Community Church is a plant from Rushere Community Church.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed meeting the pastor and members of the community.  Despite having only myself and one other doctor, we were able to see 225 patients.  

On Thursday, we went to a community not far from Mbarara called Ruti.  When we pulled up, we were greeted by overwhelming numbers of people.  

Despite the rain that fell for much of the morning, people stayed around all day.  We were not able to see everyone, but we did see 325 patients and signed up 41 people for surgery from this location.  In addition, through the spiritual care part of the clinic, 28 people gave their lives to Christ.  We exhausted most of our supply of reading glasses and had to call back to Kampala to get more glasses purchased and sent out with Jamil.  Ruti is a church plant from Pastor Johnson’s church that we worked with in Kabale back in December of 2015.

On Friday, we went to Itara.  This is a lovely village up in the banana trees west of Mbarara that we had visited 2 times in the past.  

Jamil joined us Thursday night.

The location is quite rural, so I was not sure if we would have a full day of patients.  The church and Pastor Joseph did a great job of getting the word out.  

We were able to see 300 patients and sign up another 31 patients for eye surgeries.  Through the spiritual care clinic, another 29 patients professed faith in Jesus!  What a day.  As we drove back down the dirt roads between the banana trees, we were already trying to think through the logistics of transporting, feeding, treating, and arranging follow up for the 110 patients that we have found that need eye surgery. 

So this recap gets you caught up on our week and gives you some insight into why I woke up at 5:00 am this am doing math/planning.  We will be receiving about 70 of these patients on Sunday and the Ruti group on either Tuesday or Wednesday am.  As some of you know, we leased a small bus on this trip instead of just using our old Toyota van.  We are going to be able to transport more than half of our 110 surgical patients to the hospital with our leased bus, rather than having to send them on a taxi.  This will help us offset some of the bus expense.  It should also make the trip more comfortable for our Due Unto patients.  Today, Saturday, we will be taking our friend Berna to the market in Mbarara to buy supplies to feed this large group of people lunch and dinner for the time that they are in the hospital.  Berna and her team from Divine Harvesters Church, have been gracious to help us with this task each time that we have hosted an eye surgery camp in Mbarara.

Needless to say, as we work through some of these logistics, eye surgeries are on my mind, but at the same time Heart surgeries are on my heart?  I agree, this is a strange phrase and title of a blog, but let me explain.  There are two different children that we know in western Uganda that need open heart surgery. 

The first is a young girl named Precious.  We met Precious in Ishaka back in 2017.  We noticed her because of the loud murmur that she had on exam. Over the past 2 years, Precious has undergone echocardiogram and evaluation by the heart surgeons at Mulago Hospital in Kampala.  They feel that she is now big enough that she can undergo a repair for her Ventricular Septal Defect (hole in the heart between the ventricles).  A VSD allows blood to flow the wrong way as it pumps.  This is inefficient and is not something that can be sustained as Precious gets older.  Even though Mulago is a government hospital, the open heart surgery, for Precious, will cost 18 million shillings.  At the current conversion, that is $5,000 US dollars.  This is obviously a lot of money, but it is also life or death for this young girl.  Over the past year, both of my grandmothers, Jo Gregston & Toady Due, have passed away.  As part of their obituaries, the families requested that in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to Due Unto Others.  If you  gave in memory of either of them, your donated funds will go directly to the surgery for Precious.  I feel that this is the best way to continue their memory in the heart of a 3 year old girl.  This will still leave us about $2,500 short.  If you would like to donate towards this specific need, please let me know.  The doctors are now just waiting on the green light of available funds.

The second child that has “heart surgery on my heart” is Dickson.  Dickson is a 15 year old boy in Rukungiri Uganda.  One of our friends and medical partners, Dr Jonathan Kintu, brought this need to my attention.  Dickson is in need of a heart valve replacement due to complications of rheumatic heart disease.  After having rheumatic fever, Dickson has growths on his Mitral and Aortic valves and these valves need to be repaired or replaced. Dickson has suffered slowed growth, exercise intolerance and shortness of breath due to this condition.  Dickson has been seen and evaluated at the Uganda Heart Institute and has been booked for heart surgery in November.  This will only be carried out if he has the funds to cover the cost of the surgery.  This surgery is slightly more than the one for Precious at $5,880. Again, this is a big number, but if we work together, just think of what God could Due for this boy, through us.  I have said it before, the only thing better than God answering your prayers is for God to use you to be an answer to someone else’s prayer. They have been earnestly praying for God to provide funding for the surgery. The following is a letter that was put out by the Dickson's church.  I can't imagine being in the father's position.


If God has blessed you in a way that allows you to give towards these two critically needed heart surgeries, please email me.

You can give by check or paypal. 

Due Unto Others

C/O Jay Gregston

5900 Mosteller Dr #122

Oklahoma City, OK 73112

Please pray for efficiency and miracles at the eye hospital this week.  We have these 110 patients scheduled and we are supposed to fly out on Thursday evening.  We will likely have to lean more heavily on our Ugandan team to finish the project here on Thursday and Friday.  

What ever you Due!


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Up and Running in Uganda!

We are off and running with our eye clinics in Uganda.  

Our team arrived in Uganda at 4:00 am on Monday morning.  We slept a while and then went to Wentz Medical Center to start packing our trunks and ordering our medications for our 6 eye clinics.  We spent Tuesday visiting some friends in the Kampala area. You might remember Nakiganda and Tendo.  They were some of our “that one person” (TOP) friends that Due Unto Others supporters helped to get medical care in 2012.  Tendo is now about to turn 13, is in 6th grade, and is doing well in school and physically.  Tendo came with us for the day and told Jayne that she was “more active before”.

Nakiganda, now 14, seems to be doing well.  She has grown and seems to understand and communicate much better than she did in the past.  She is in top class, which is like pre-k in the US.


We also got to spend a couple of evenings with Jamil.  Jamil is busy preparing for his primary school leaving exams. He will get to join us for more time in the latter part of our trip. 

The bus was loaded and the Due Unto Others team of 2019 headed out to Mbarara on Wednesday to start our clinics.

On Thursday and Friday we hosted eye clinics in Rushere.  We had been to Rushere in 2012 and 2013, but we have not been back since that time.   On our initial trip to Rushere, the church was just a frame in the middle of an open field and was partially roofed.  We stayed in guest rooms around a bar and we took care of a boy named David.  On our second trip to Rushere, the church was completed, and we were introduced to Kevin, a boy with severe burns.  On that trip, we stayed in a guest house near the hospital.  This guest house was at the top of a hill and with the relative lack of lights, we saw some of the most spectacular stars.

Now, in 2019, the church building has doubled in size, they have added 2 school buildings and have dug the footing of a large sanctuary that they plan to build over the next year.  It is currently a school holiday here in Uganda, but on a regular school day, the school educates more than 100 students. 

On day 1 in Rushere, we saw 150 patients for eye treatment.  Through this first Rushere clinic, we were also able to experience 12 people accept Christ and 16 patients were signed up for operations. We also gave out many pair of reading glasses, primarily to the aging patients that could no longer read or do things up close.  

The Rushere church helped us with great translators and a nurse.  On day 2 of the Rushere clinic, we saw 110 patients and added 5 salvations and 8 surgery candidates. 

In preparation for this year’s trip, we had gathered some sport coats and suits to bring with us.  I gave 3 sport coats and one suit to Pastor Herbert in Rushere.  I asked him to give them away as he deemed appropriate.  I did not realize that the 3 gentleman that had been manning our “spiritual care” clinic were local pastors.  One from the church we were working in and 2 from other nearby churches.  He gave the sport coats to them and they were giddy with excitement.  It was more than a little warm in the church as we finished the day, but they kept the coats on their body and a smile on their face.  I randomly picked out the coats and suits from our duffle bag, but they all seemed to fit perfectly.  This was one of the highlights of the day.  Many of the suits belonged to my grandfather, Jack Gregston, and this made it all the sweeter.

We have a day off on Saturday and plan to attend Ishaka Community Church on Sunday.  Ishaka will be the site of our clinic on Monday. 

Please continue to keep our team in your prayers.  We are anticipating great things in all that we DUE. 

Whatever you DUE!

1 Chorinthians 10:31