Currently on this earth, one of my vocares is research assistant for an incredible business called Through the Cords. TTC is working to gain FDA approval for an innovatively modified endotracheal tube, which will decrease the risk involved in intubation. Essentially, Dr. Runnels, my anesthesiologist boss, color-coded this tube that he sticks down people’s throats to help them breathe while under anesthesia. By making sure the “Goldilocks” style endotracheal tubes are at the green zone at the vocal cords, the chances of pneumothoraxes (caused by the tube going in too far and poking a hole in the patient’s lung) and hypoxia (not enough oxygen being delivered to the lungs when the tube isn’t far enough in the trachea) are greatly decreased. Dr. Runnels estimated that his modified tubes could save over 60,000 lives per year in America alone.
Probably an even more exciting part of TTC is that Dr. Runnels came up with this idea while serving on a medical mission trip in Rwanda. He wants to be able to share knowledge and skill with the low resource hospitals there, and create simpler ways to convey much needed techniques. Though intubations are the third most administered procedure around the world, they are not easy, and at the hands of understaffed and undertrained doctors and residents in low-resource countries, many many patients die, not from their original afflictions, but from the airway management itself.
So where does that leave me at this small lab/business then? Usually it’s running around, doing everything that Dr. Runnels doesn’t want to do and/or doesn’t have time for. Over the past few weeks I’ve cleaned an old AV cart, wrote and submitted a $100,000 grant request to the Utah governor’s office, went cross-eyed manually entering 462 pieces of airway literature into our new database, and painstakingly edited a Rwandan-written paper to be published in Anesthesia&Analgesia scientific journal. And I wouldn’t change any part of it. I have the incredible fortune of having a job where I can very easily see how my work contributes to the Cultural Mandate. As God called Adam in Genesis to work and keep the Garden, I am called in the present day to cultivate creation by both ábad (work) and shámar (keep). In the case of TTC, I am working and serving the earth and humanity to bring about redemption through physical healing and the passage of skills and knowledge. I am keeping and tending to culture by protecting against the unnaturalness of death.
Though my job is very administrative and my hands aren’t directly on patients, my work, through grant writing and IRB applications, allows for the eventual passage of knowledge and skills from our hands, to lower resource settings. Dr. Runnels plans to take his invention back to Africa, and thus spread the Gospel by bringing heaven to earth through medical advances. Following a Mother Theresa model of mission, Dr. Runnels hopes to proclaim this scripture: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
To work against the entropy of a world marred by sin and protect it, I’m working for a business that actively pushes back against the greatest sin, death. As we are de-ricking our endotracheal tubes to be FDA approved and marketed across the world, we are spreading the Gospel through preserving life. In this way, we are reflecting the redemption of man by Jesus, as told by Paul in Romans 5:
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:12-17).
Through my job at TTC, I am fortunate to have the clear opportunity to till and keep the earth, spreading the Gospel through oikos evangelism. In this good endeavor, I can give glory to God.
Salt Lake Fellow
Class of 2016-17