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Global Outreach International

What a Hysterectomy in Honduras Taught Me About Grace

by David Alexander
Remembering God's provision despite the odds

I’d like to share a story that I have been processing for a while.

His provision in unbelief

One Sunday in March, I walked down to the hospital to visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) short-term mission team visiting for the week. I found them in the OR area unpacking. Their anesthesiologist was already helping with a C-section. 

A 49-year-old Honduran woman had walked three hours down from the mountains to deliver her tenth baby. (Read that sentence again and let it all sink in.) She had never visited our hospital before, and, like most mountain folk here, she had very little trust in hospitals, due largely to the state of the public hospital system.

I peeked in the door to see our most experienced OB-GYN preforming the procedure while the visiting anesthesiologist was talking with a nurse. They looked at ease, which was a good sign, so I went home.

Three hours later I got an urgent call on the radio. Despite multiple attempts and medications, her uterus had not stopped bleeding after the C-section. The baby was fine, but it looked like the woman might bleed to death.

Jeff (surgeon and founder of the hospital) and I began to prepare for an emergent hysterectomy, a difficult and dangerous operation that was the only option to save her life. The other doctors, nurses, and missionaries began mobilizing our “walking blood bank,” the other crucial component to keep her alive. Missionaries donate fresh, whole blood, which is transfused immediately into the patient.

I will spare you the details of the battle (operation) but suffice it to say that we prayed aloud often as we worked. And once again we witnessed that “Dios obra aqui” (“God works here”) and the woman lived. As we finally transferred her to the nursing ward to begin her recovery, we asked the other providers about how much blood she had required. The answer stunned me: she received a total of ten units of blood, and five liters of IV fluid.

To put that into perspective, the average person has about five liters of blood in their body. Smaller women (like our patient) have even less! We had replaced her total blood volume TWICE, and she lived!

The next day, I saw her at the hospital and was amazed to find her up and walking around. Mountain people are tough. It occurred to me that literally none of the blood currently flowing through her veins was hers! I asked her attending doctor how she was doing. “Well,” she replied, “she is irritated that I won’t let her go home today, and concerned about the hospital bill.”

In spite of numerous doctors and chaplains explaining this to her, the woman had no understanding that she should have died, and only by God’s grace and provision (and a lot of hard-working missionaries) was she still alive. Our hospital only charges patients a very small percentage of the actual cost of their care, a fact she was unaware of as well.

On top of all of this, her baby had developed respiratory problems and would need to stay for another week. All of this only confirmed to her the uselessness of hospitals: they make a lot of fuss over a delivery, charge you a lot, and won’t let you take a perfectly fine baby home. I assure you that the baby was not fine. Many in this area don’t name their babies for several weeks because infant mortality is so high.

In summary, mother and baby did great and eventually, she did get to go home, in no way dissuaded from her preconceptions of hospitals and "western" care.

So she left, unaware of the symphony of Grace the Lord had orchestrated around her life that Sunday afternoon.  He preserved and sustained her life that day, and continued to show that He is "kind to the unthankful.”

Thanking God for His grace in my life own life

Now it is this what I have pondered over the past few months. I never really felt angry or frustrated with her, because of the obvious parallel to what the Savior did for me. On any given day is my heart any more grateful or aware of the symphony of grace that began in my life many years ago? For I was dying and in need of saving and I am daily surrounded by Grace and Mercy and Provision all orchestrated by a loving and Kind Father.  The testimony of His undeserved grace in my life is clearly evident on any given day. If only I would look and listen and remember and choose to be thankful.

Yet like my patient, I often choose to only focus on the inconvenience and personal cost of the day or whatever little problem is troubling me and thereby walk, unaware of Grace.

May all of us become more aware of the symphony of grace God orchestrates around us every day.


Dr. David Alexander and his family live and work at Loma de Luz Hospital in Honduras. For more information or to support their work, click here: