In 1997, Katie Osborn, a critical care nurse, was seeking a new challenge and began her volunteer service with ReSurge International. Since her first trip to Laos in 1999, Katie has donated her considerable talents and expertise as both a clinical nurse and a nurse educator on fifteen ReSurge trips throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa. 

Katie chaired the development of ReSurge’s nursing curriculum and conducted the initial site evaluation for ReSurge’s work in Maputo, Mozambique. She went on to volunteer as a nurse educator on ReSurge’s inaugural trip to Mozambique. Here, she discusses one of her most memorable cases.

Nurses have many roles and functions on the team, but to me the most important contribution we make is advocating for our patients. Through my trips with ReSurge, it’s been driven home to me that this is true of nurses around the world, and there’s one story that sticks in my mind that demonstrates that.

The story is about a nurse I met, and Amadou, a patient I cared for while on a ReSurge trip to Mali in 2008.

We were nearing the end of the first week and, as always, the surgery schedule was full. I was doing dressing changes in the ward when one of the local nurses came up to me, and through the translator asked if I would follow her to see a patient.

She took me downstairs and into a ward I had not seen before. She explained that there was a young patient there named Amadou.  Amadou had been badly burned when a pot of hot oil spilled on him. His burns extended all the way down the right side of his body.

He had been at the hospital for a couple of months and the local doctors had decided not to show him to us because they thought he was just going to eventually die. But, fortunately for Amadou, this local nurse felt differently.

I took off Amadou’s dressing and realized he was ready for grafting. I discussed it with our pediatrician and we decided to get one of the surgeons to look at him.

The surgeon agreed the boy was ready for surgery, but the schedule was full. I asked the surgeon if he would be willing to do the surgery on Saturday, if I could get enough team members to volunteer. He agreed. Of course, our wonderful team members agreed to give up their Saturday, and Amadou was grafted. We found out later that he eventually completely healed and went home.

So, you see, this boy’s life was saved, and it all began with a local nurse advocating for a patient she cared about.

Katie holds a masters’ in nursing from UCSF and a doctorate from University of Southern California. For thirty years, she served as a tenured professor of nursing at California State University, Sacramento, while simultaneously working as a critical care nurse for twenty of those years. 

Katie exemplifies the courageous heart of nursing that we at Barco’s Nightingales Foundation recognize and salute. Thank you Katie.

~Michael and Frida Donner