God has been good and we (the surgical team) have had only 4 post-operative deaths over the last 2 years here. The fourth one happened today. What was a straightforward procedure with no intra-operative complications turned into a nightmare, as the patient did not maintain sufficient saturation of oxygen after the operation, developed severe bronchospasm in the Intensive Care Unit and then passed away soon after. We have some theories as to what may have happened and there will be a detailed discussion with all members of the team tomorrow. But somehow, I feel that whatever medical jargon we use to explain what happened, the truth of the matter was that it was her 'time'. Except for her age (and 65 is no longer that old, especially in Meghalaya where 90 year olds are as sprightly as those half their age), she was fit as a fiddle. Nothing could have prepared any of us or her family for what eventually happened.
So, while we all go to sleep with heavy hearts, I know that some things which are beyond our understanding cannot be cried over for too long. Every patient who gets well after an operation is a reminder of God's healing. If we cannot take any credit for being the instruments of healing to many hundreds of patients, we need to accept God's purposes in the few who have problems. That so few have problems itself is a great miracle, considering the complex procedures we sometimes do on sick patients. While this does not in any way reduce our responsibility to provide the best possible care leaving no room for mistakes, it does remind us that we have no power over life. The best operation can have a complication and the worst one can be problem-free in the post operative period. So tomorrow, we will go into the minutest detail of what happened and try to identify any problems and rectify them if found. We will try to come to a consensus on what happened and make whatever changes are needed to prevent it from happening again. But in our heart of hearts we have to submit to God and His power and ask that He brings healing to our patients through our hands and gives us the wisdom and grace that we need in our intense line of work.