The woman barely was able to walk into the Charlie Medical Clinic on the Army base in Ramadi, Iraq. Faint and weak from internal bleeding, the cramping pain in her pelvic region was more than she could bear. She collapsed. Her blood pressure precipitously dropped. She was near death.
Lt. Col. John Page, M.D., diagnosed her with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and immediately went to work to save her life. Page and his medical team resuscitated and stabilized her and called for the helicopter that whisked her to the combat support hospital.
There, an Army surgeon operated and saved the life of the 34-year-old German woman, who was in Iraq working under a contract with the U.S. government.
“We treated everyone day or night who walked through the door – local nationals, civilians under contract with the government, soldiers and even State Department and embassy personnel,” Page said. “The United States Army’s Tactical Combat Medical Care System is very effective. We do a good job preventing soldiers from dying on the battlefield.”
Page has been at Fort Gordon’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center for two years, including a deployment to Iraq from July 2010 to January of this year. He took a circuitous route to becoming a gastroenterologist.
He graduated from West Point with a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in Operations Research Systems Analysis, but after 16 years as a line and staff officer, he resigned his commission and entered medical school.
Page says the Lord called him to medicine 17 years ago at age 34, when he was a staff officer at the Pentagon.
Two factors influenced his decision: “At the Pentagon, I realized that I was not impacting the lives of those around me. Secondly, my oldest son was diagnosed with microcephaly. The compassionate care of the doctors in their treatment of him and their work with me and my wife had a huge influence on me. God spoke to me during this difficult time, calling me to minister to others through medicine.”
This time last year, he was in Ramadi, far from his four children and dear wife. “The deployment was tough on my wife – harder for her than it was for me. But I wanted to deploy. I wanted to serve the Army, my country and our soldiers,” he said. “I strongly desired to help out, participate, do my part and minister to and encourage our soldiers in Iraq. For me, that desire comes from the Lord.”
It was hard to be away from home at Christmas, Page said.
“But the Army,” he added, “went all out to give us a celebration that I will never forget. We had a wonderful, uplifting Christmas Eve service … the familiar hymns, the traditional Scripture readings from Isaiah and Luke and the chaplain’s Christmas sermon really blessed us all.
“Afterward, we exchanged presents and opened the care packages from supportive citizens back home,” he said. “We were overwhelmed with joy and felt a … camaraderie with them and with each other. … I will always be grateful.”
Page manifests the love of Christ to those under his care through his compassionate actions: “I pray for my soldiers and try to live by 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ ”
THE REV. DAN WHITE IS THE PASTOR OF NORTH COLUMBIA CHURCH IN APPLING.