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WHEN Jeff Colyer, MD, first met his 16-year-old patient, Veronica, she might have needed a miracle more than a surgeon.
The girl had lost a hand and suffered an open skull fracture last June in a machete attack by roving killers near Kibungo, Rwanda, about 65 miles southeast of the capital of Kigali. For 2 weeks, she had been left for dead among 500 bodies piled in a church. By the time Veronica arrived at Kibungo's decimated hospital, she was catatonic and had contracted a severe infection.
After a month under Colyer's care, the Kansas City, Mo, volunteer surgeon relayed word back to the United States that Veronica was on the road to recovery. "Today she smiled and told me her name," he wrote in a July 22 letter. "Her wounds are healing." Veronica's miracle and her surgeon materialized thanks to the efforts of the Los Angeles, Calif—based International Medical
Voelker R. Relief Agencies Face Crisis of a Lifetime. JAMA. 1994;272(8):575-576. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520080013004