I have sat in the corner of the operating room with my Leatherman knife trying to repair the skin grafting machine so Dr. Cotton could finish a serious operation. There was a young school girl who had been struck by lightening causing her nylon knee socks to melt to her legs. She had 3rd degree burns from her knees to her ankles. I was able to fix the machine and the surgery was very successful. I have had my mechanic’s tools from the airplane put in the autoclave to be sterilized for some orthopedic operations, as they were better for the job than anything at the hospital. After assisting I think I would have loved being a surgeon. It is much like working on a car or plane. Just blood in stead of hydraulic fluid.
Doctor Cotton has done some very unusual operations that you wouldn’t see every day in the US or UK, like removing axes from people’s heads or repairing bites from crocodiles or gores by buffalo. But my personal favorite was removing a fishing spear from a man’s chest that rested only inches from his heart. It was the result of some altercation between men. Someone owed someone money and someone said something rude…but, bottom line, Mike was able to save him.
Dr. Mike worked tirelessly and always with a smile to serve the people of Zimbabwe. It was always great working with him and being a part of what he did there.