Where will your next breath come from?
A question so foreign and yet so familiar. For the past three months, The Luke Commission (TLC) team has worked around the clock to answer that question for hundreds of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children. Messages at all hours of the day and night pleading with every oxygen supplier in southern Africa to extend supply by another 12-24 hours. Will the truck make it across the border? How many oxygen cylinders will arrive? The instability of the most critical resource to treat patients is devastating. And yet every day the team resolves to rewrite this tragic story of sickness, pain, suffering, and shortage into a story of hope. A story of healing and redemption. A launching pad for a new era of critical care in Eswatini.
As Eswatini emerges from the second wave of COVID-19 most closely resembling the height of the HIV epidemic, circumstances have changed but TLC’s conviction remains the same. Treat Every Last One as your father, mother, brother, sister, or child.
Help build the first-ever oxygen plant in Eswatini and establish a cornerstone of critical care for decades to come!
COVID-19 inpatient nights
liters oxygen produced
COVID-19 in Eswatini
On December 11, 2020, the TLC team admitted 16 critical COVID-19 patients to the Miracle Campus inpatient ward over a period of four hours. The second wave of COVID-19 had arrived, more contagious and more deadly than the first. In December 2020 and January 2021, TLC cared for over 350 severe and critical COVID-19 patients. Nearly every ventilator, every high-care bed, and every ICU bed on the Miracle Campus was in continuous use. Some patients recovered. Some died. All required significant amounts of medical oxygen—the single most powerful medical intervention for COVID-19.
Health facilities across Eswatini depend on imported oxygen from neighboring South Africa. Under the second wave of COVID-19, TLC’s oxygen consumption surged to up to 240 tanks of oxygen per day. With South Africa also facing a tremendous spike in COVID-19 infections, suppliers were often unable to fulfill orders. Every day, the TLC team spends anxious hours calling to suppliers and other facilities in pursuit of the next shipment of oxygen. If the oxygen runs out, patients will quickly desaturate and die.
Prior to the arrival of COVID-19 in March 2020, TLC began planning for installation of medical oxygen, medical gas, and suction throughout the inpatient ward. The urgent needs of COVID accelerated these plans.
The high volumes of oxygen needed to care for COVID-19 patients, combined with the overall oxygen needs in the country, led the team to push forward building an on-site PSA (pressure swing absorption) plant that will generate 2500LPM (liters per minute) of medical grade oxygen from ambient air and additional plant capacity to support 2000LPM of medical air and suction. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the plant will have capacity to support nearby health care facilities through the filling of more than 275 tanks of oxygen daily.
A thorough vetting of contractors led to selection of an experienced firm from South Africa to install the plant in coordination with TLC’s existing construction, engineering, and project teams.
Recognizing the urgency of the need, TLC took out a line of credit for the first phase of the US$4.2 million project. Your gift, combined with the generosity of like-minded individuals and organizations, will permit commissioning the plant and launching a new era of increased oxygen independence in Eswatini.