In the Newsletter's September, l96l issue, Dr. Maurice Butler -- the clinic's first doctor, who stayed between August, 1958 and January, 1971 -- contributed the following story, which offers a vivid glimpse into everyday life at the clinic.
Last week as Monday clinic was finished, preparations were being made for the routine 4 p.m. trip to the Pueblo 2 miles away, to visit several people in their homes. The Travelall serves not only as ambulance, at times, but also as bus or taxi to take fifteen or 20 workers home at the end of the day several times a week. They do not expect to ride but it is usually raining in the evening and that is a good hour for home calls anyway, as clinic visits are few.
Just then a Jeep pulled in from Bochil, 30 miles away. There, lying across the back of the Jeep was Dario, the worst-chopped man we have seen yet, but still very much alive though he had gone a whole day without treatment. True, he was pale and the pulse was fast but it was amazing to see him alive and not even in shock. The wrist was cut half way through, the muscles of the back of the arm severed, the back chopped into the shoulder blade in two places, the skull laid bare in two of the several scalp cuts, and long deep cuts criss-crossed over the vital vessels of the neck, entering the ear canal, jaw-bone and the last molar reaching to the back of the neck. All were dirty but especially the wrist had been thoroughly ground in the dirt. He had rolled over a bank down into a gulch and spent the night on the creek bank.
Cleaning the infected wounds required an hour and a half and the repair, done with only a strong analgesic injection and local anesthetic, occupied the rest of our time until midnight. The patient's father after watching for a time had to go out, but his friend remained the full time. There were over 200 stitches in all. The wrist itself was a major job with at least 7 tendons cut. After 8 hours over that low table an adjustable operating table would look good!
At 4:00 a.m. Cristobal, our boy who sleeps in the clinic, called, and we awoke, wondering what was happening to Dario now. Had he suddenly gone into shock and passed on? No, his wife was "very grave and about to relieve herself" of her baby. Perhaps this is why she had used up so many "cigarros" during her husband's repair. We had thought it was just tension over her husband's condition. We had not even noticed the wife's contour. She was due to deliver 6 weeks later, but the fast, rough Jeep ride was too much. On arriving we found the patient fairly comfortable and not appearing at all nervous, but she was about to deliver a premature baby. So we quickly called our l4-year-old American surgery supervisor, Ann Kirkendall, to take charge, while the rest of us assisted. She handled the delivery perfectly and the 4-lb. baby has done very well. In this country, taking charge of a delivery makes you the "grandmother," and this young "grandmother" who has always been very fond of babies accepts the role!
Now, after a week, Dario's infection is largely under control and there are no signs of tetanus yet. He should be going home in a few days. God has spared his life for a reason we are sure.