When John Willy—a biomedical equipment technician (BMET) in Uganda—woke up one morning last September, he probably didn’t expect to be a gatekeeper for lifesaving surgery. But after receiving an emergency call to repair an anesthesia machine at a nearby hospital, that’s what he became.
Willy was summoned by the hospital to fix a broken knob that controls the machine’s oxygen concentrator, without which the hospital’s anesthetist wouldn’t be able to manage the flow of oxygen into the patient. (In Uganda, it’s common for hospitals to lack access to cylinder oxygen.) While Willy hadn’t seen this issue before, his training (paired with some ingenuity) allowed him to facilitate the repair and ready the machine for the surgery—now able to be performed because he responded with timely, expert service.
In the world of surgery and anesthesia, BMETs like Willy are crucial pieces to a complex, systemic puzzle—a puzzle that becomes even more complex in low-resource settings like Uganda, where medical equipment challenges are far more rampant, the surgical needs far greater, and the availability of trained BMETs far less common.