Old Ultrasound Machine Brings New Life to Struggling Kenyan Hospital

A used SonoSite helps trigger a hospital’s 180-degree turn from a “place to die” to a place of hope.

The information that comes in on SonoSite’s Contact Form is usually pretty routine. However, the comments we received March 20, 2012, in the feedback section of the Contact Form were anything but routine.

With permission of the author, we are printing a shortened version of that message:

In 1999 I retired as Professor of Medicine at U.C. San Diego. I then ventured to Kenya, East Africa, for 12.5 years. The last 10 years spent there were at Maseno Mission Hospital, Maseno, Kenya, not far from the city of Kisumu and near Lake Victoria. The Hospital is in Western Province, the second poorest province in Kenya. The Hospital was virtually moribund when I arrived there. With donor support, we improved things a bit. The one thing I wanted most was an ultrasound machine, since other diagnostic modalities were simply not there.

At that time (circ. 2004), a new SonoSite 180™ cost $25,000, far beyond our fiscal capability. However, a doctor from Japan . . . wanted to help us. He found a used 180 on the Internet, bought it, and sent it to us. It has made a HUGE difference. We became known as a Hospital where diagnosis was quickly made and treated inexpensively and expeditiously. The Hospital, which . . . had the reputation of [being] just an expensive place to die, became a hospital which offered hope to patients. . . .

Patient census ballooned. I cannot exaggerate the difference it has made. Recently, the power supply failed. Your support division was extremely helpful in helping me get a replacement quickly. . . . (I have now retired for the second time but continue to support the Hospital from my home in San Diego in any way I can.)

One dividend from my tour of duty as a missionary doctor there is that rotating residents from U. of Tenn. School of Medicine and from several sites in Europe have been introduced directly to the wonders of ultrasound, and I think they will push for its wider use when they return to their training sites.

The 180 has been robust and durable. Its mica window is getting a bit flaky and some buttons hard to connect, but it is still working. Hopefully, we shall get some donors who over time can fund a replacement now that the prices have come down.

Before closing, I want to compliment Veronique Deam and Monica Afuso in your service support division for their great help.

William G.M. Hardison, MD

Note Dr. Hardison’s commentary about the rotating residents from the U.S. and Europe being exposed to “the wonders of ultrasound.” It’s encouraging to think that someday those physicians—and the patients they serve—will be able to trace the benefits they receive from ultrasound to a used SonoSite 180 employed at a small missionary hospital in faraway Kenya!

If you have a SonoSite story you would like to share with us, please use our online Feedback Form. While submissions do not do not guarantee publication, we always enjoy hearing from SonoSite users and, of course, we would never repeat your words without your permission.