“You need to come do some surgeries,” said Dr. Simon, a while back.

Echo smiled. End of conversation.

“You need to do surgeries and show our team how it’s done,” said Dr. Simon, another day.

TLC staff gets as close as possible to watch Echo (right) do what she loves.

Echo smiled. “Sure, Simon.”

“When are you coming to do some surgeries, like you used to do all the time?” asked Dr. Simon. “We know you have skills to teach us.”

Talking quietly to reassure patients, Echo removes a large lipoma from a patient’s shoulder.​

“When do you need me?” replied Echo.

“What about this evening?” Simon laughed.

“Do you have patients ready to go?”

It’s time to sew up the wound.​

 

“We’ll get them here,” assured Simon.

 

“I was getting off at 4:30,” said one young staff member. “But if Echo is coming, I want to stay and work with her.”

Patient Fikile could not be happier to have a benign but constricting tumor removed from her upper arm.​

Five hours and three patients later, Simon said to the team watching and assisting, “Did you see everything she did? She may not be back in surgery for another year.”

Echo stripped off her gloves and mask. She smiled. End of that conversation, too.

Echo completes the bandage on Jane’s shoulder where a tumor had been growing for 10 years. “I feel like dancing,” says Jane.​

The next morning, Simon sent out a text: “Can you come to surgery? We have a couple of difficult cases. The team could use your help.”

“Coming,” answered Echo. “You know I love cutting and taking out what should not be there.”

Two happy patients (in yellow and front) with TLC staff members and Echo (3rdfrom left) say good night. It’s dark outside, but inside the warehouse surgical unit, there’s the light of victory.​

Later, over a patient’s bed, Echo instructed and expressed her enjoyment. “I used to do this all day at every outreach,” she explained to new medical personnel. “I loved it, as I hope you do.”

These days her duties as managing executive director of The Luke Commission keep her occupied with other responsibilities. Echo voiced great confidence in TLC’s medical team, without her, but sometimes it’s good for everyone when she gowns up and takes a scalpel in hand.​

by Janet Tuinstra

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