A Touching Story of Korea

Many and sad are the experiences that come to doctors and nurses who labor in these lands where the value of a life is esti­mated in actual dollars and cents.

By ERNESTINE GILL, R.N., Superintendent of Nurses, Seoul Sanitarium

Many and sad are the experiences that come to doctors and nurses who labor in these lands where the value of a life is esti­mated in actual dollars and cents. I especially recall a pathetic case that cannot easily be forgotten. A woman about thirty years of age was brought in by her husband to be cared for. She was suffering from an incurable con­dition that caused most excruciating pain. Her husband was informed that the only way to save her life was to amputate her leg and thus prevent the progress of the disease.

We expected the husband to come the next day to make arrangements for the operation, but he failed to appear. Days slipped by and he did not come. Finally, we became quite desperate with the suffering woman on our hands, without permission to operate, or to do anything except give sedatives to provide tem­porary comfort.

Every day this poor, suffering woman pleaded with us to amputate her foot, until it became difficult for us to enter her room, knowing that we could give her no assurance of relief.

Repeated messages were sent to the husband, asking him to come and see us, but to no avail. After several weeks had passed, and the woman had grown decidedly worse, the husband arrived with wagon and quilts to take his wife back home. He informed us that he had de­cided he could get another wife more cheaply than he could have the present one treated; so he had taken another wife to his home, and he would take this woman home to die.

I cannot find words to describe the agony expressed in the eyes of that poor woman as she was carried out of the hospital and placed in the rickety old ox cart, to be exposed to cold, suffering, heartache, and mistreatment of all kinds. The pleas she made for us to save her life were so touching that we were all shedding tears before she left us. We stood by the side of the ox cart, absolutely helpless. For, after all, this woman was the personal property of her husband, and not even her own father and mother could give us permission to do what we felt should he done.

The man would not even permit us to keep her "on charity," and treat her. The sooner she died, the sooner she would be out of his way. There will come a time when these experiences will be ended, and I pray that the Lord will hasten the day when sorrow, suffering, and death will be forever blotted out.—Far Eastern Division Outlook, August, 1939.


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By ERNESTINE GILL, R.N., Superintendent of Nurses, Seoul Sanitarium

December 1939

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