Two exceptional doctors

Two exceptional doctors share the name John Kelly. If you want to hear a Good News story, ask any MMM to talk about Dr. John Kelly. You’ll have to clarify which one she is talking about, but the inspiration is the same. Both are obstetrician-gynaecologists. Both worked with MMM in Nigeria many years ago. Retired now from their former posts, both are active collaborators with MMM today.

Doctor John Kelly, Obstetrician, from Birmingham, UKSister Pauline Dean was a paediatrician at St. Luke’s Hospital, Anua, and remembers a day, long ago, when she had a terrible headache as she began her ward round. She knew her temperature was up somewhere around 102. Malaria had struck again. Just then, in walked a stranger.

“I hear you have malaria and should not be on duty”, he said. “Let me do the ward round with you. Tell me about each patient and I’ll take good care of them till you feel better.”

Dr. John Kelly was newly-arrived from Birmingham, England. When Sister Pauline was well again a few days later, he took over in the obstetric unit. He is shown on the right doing a fistula repair, promising new life to a woman suffering from this preventable condition.

Sister Maria Goretti O’Conor met the same Dr. Kelly at the Sorrento Hospital in Birmingham when she was studying for the Advanced Diploma of Midwifery and Clinical Teaching.

“He later invited me to join the Research Team at Birmingham University with particular interest in foetal growth retardation. He showed great interest in the many Sister doctors and nurses of all missionary congregations and those who came from the developing countries. He and his late wife, Chris, also provided great hospitality for us at their home, together with their children Dominic, Daniel, Aidan and Mairead.”

Sister Maura Lynch, senior surgeon at Kitovu Hospital in Uganda, says, “I have learned many practical and moral lessons from John. His dedicated service to underprivileged women is outstanding, as he travels from continent to continent doing fistula repair in the developing world. In spite of long hours at the operating table in uncomfortable positions, he never accepts all the thanks and glory of success for himself but acknowledges the importance of the roles of everyone on the operating team. John is also very conscious of the financial burden of these complicated surgical procedures and is always seeking funds and never fails to bring along with him many of the needed supplies.”

john_v_kelly_tanzaniaDr. John V. Kelly, together with his lovely French wife and young son, John, came to work at St. Luke’s Hospital in Anua in 1965. Their daughter was born there and they called her Mary Anua, or Manua for short.

Dr. Kelly’s arrival at Anua enabled Sister Ann Ward to return to Europe to study for her M.R.C.O.G. Later she was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal College, and went on to establish the renowned service for fistula repair at Itam in southeastern Nigeria.

Unfortunately the Biafran War interrupted Dr. Kelly’s work with us in Nigeria. The family returned to the United States and settled in Phoenix, Arizona where Cecilia and Marc were born.

The photo on the right shows Sister Marian Scena with Dr. John V. Kelly. After the death of his wife and his retirement in 1996, Dr. John was still feeling full of energy. He contacted MMM again to see if there might be a place where he could contribute his skills and experience. The Sisters at Makiungu Hospital in Tanzania were absolutely delighted.

Sister Marian Scena, who was Medical Officer in Charge at Makiungu Hospital, told us:

“Since 1996, Dr. Kelly has spent between four and eight months every year in Makiungu, passing on his skills, experience and wisdom to the other medical staff at the hospital. He is very popular and has developed a large practice dealing with problems of infertility. He has also helped to train our younger Sister-doctors in the specialization of obstetrics and gives them the encouragement and confidence to go forward for advanced study in this very difficult field.

“Apart from sharing generously his medical and surgical skills, Dr. Kelly has used every opportunity to talk with friends and colleagues about Makiungu.”