“If I Leave, People Will Die”

One Missionary Doctor’s Unshakeable Commitment

In the remote Nuba Mountains of Sudan is a man known as a local hero. He’s the director of Mother of Mercy Hospital, the only hospital for 300 miles serving over 1 million people. It is the hospital he helped found, where he works year after year as the only surgeon treating hundreds of people every day. Seven days a week.

Send twice the medicine to Dr. Tom with Matching Grant

Dr. Tom Catena is a missionary doctor from upstate New York who visited Sudan more than 15 years ago but couldn’t forget what he saw—his heart was moved over the incredible need to help.

Dr. Tom’s Work at Mother of Mercy
Hospital At-a-Glance

  • Mother of Mercy is the only hospital for 300 miles in the remote Nuba Mountains
  • The hospital serves over 1 million people covering an area the size of Austria
  • Dr. Tom works 7 days a week and is on call every night
  • For 15 years Dr. Tom has been the hospital’s only surgeon
  • A local hero, Dr. Tom stayed by the people’s side through times of intense warfare to save lives when others left

Indomitable spirit – Dr. Tom’s unwavering commitment to provide medical care in the Nuba Mountains is nothing less than heroic.

The Crisis

In 2008, he helped establish Mother of Mercy Hospital. Shortly after, he found himself in the middle of a horrific civil war, wrought by a brutal dictator attempting genocide on the people of Nuba – who represented a large Christian and non-Muslim population.

Dr. Tom gave up comforts to make this remote outpost his home base. He lives in a hut next to the hospital so he can walk over during the night for emergencies, a flashlight in his hand as he tromps through the underbrush to come help.

“Leaving would be the equivalent of saying our lives are more valuable than theirs.”

His house has been targeted by bombs, and so has his hospital. He’s jumped into foxholes with patients and staff during air raids, and refused to leave during times of peril even when all others left the region. He’s endured serious bouts of malaria, tuberculosis, and long periods of isolation, but never wavered from his mission.

Despite his resilience, Dr. Tom can only do this work because of faithful supporters of Sudan Relief Fund, who provide the medicines he needs to run the hospital each and every day. 

Right now there is a wonderful matching opportunity that’s become available to help Dr. Tom continue saving lives at Mother of Mercy Hospital.

A dear friend of Dr. Tom’s has graciously offered to match all contributions from now through September 29th, up to $100,000! That means any gift you give will send twice the medicine and have double the impact on his work.

Dr. Tom knows he can’t do this overwhelming work alone. He rises early each morning to pray, then begins his rounds at the hospital where he’ll treat up to 500 patients in a single day.

In the same day he may perform C-sections, life-threatening surgeries, set bones, treat burn patients, malnourished children, and malaria victims. His job description changes daily based on the needs of desperate people who arrive at the hospital doors. He will respond to them all before his day ends.

We take Christ at His word when He tells us to serve the least of these.

Make childbirth safer – Dr. Tom’s team is fighting high mortality rates by providing over 500 safe deliveries at Mother of Mercy each year.

Patients travel long hours or days across treacherous roads to reach the first-world medical skill they find at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Mothers in distressed labor have endured hours of bumpy roads in the back of a vehicle to find lifesaving deliveries here. A father once pulled his ailing son over 150 miles in a wagon to reach Dr. Tom in hopes of saving his child’s legs. The boy lived to walk and run again.

Shukran was a 3-year-old girl who came to Mother of Mercy Hospital in desperate shape. She was horrifically underweight and malnourished. She suffered from such severe tuberculosis that she’d developed a spinal deformity. And she was disoriented from a high fever. Because of the spinal deformity, Shukran couldn’t walk and was confined to bed. Her mother had been killed in a bombing attack and her grandmother was trying to care for the little girl.

Dr. Tom and his team immediately began treating Shukran for spinal tuberculosis and severe malnutrition. She received extensive rounds of TB medicines and nutritional supplements. Soon the dying little girl began to turn around. She progressed so well on her treatments that she regained a healthy weight and fully recovered from the tuberculosis. With her strength returned and her illness gone, little Shukran was diagnosed in excellent health. She was able to walk out of the hospital without difficulty next to her grandmother. Not only could she walk again, she could even run.

There are endless examples of lives saved. Dr. Tom’s reach has been so impactful in this region that many here call him the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. But Dr. Tom has never been interested in recognition. Only in telling the story of the struggling Nuba people to bring aid to those who have so little.

“We have forgotten that we are all children of God.”

Making the rounds – Starting early, Dr. Tom will see up to 500 patients in a single day – every day.

Tragically, there’s a new conflict raging in Sudan today. Supporters of the ousted regime have taken up arms in Sudan’s capital and elsewhere, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee to escape the violence.

Recent reports indicate the fighting is spreading further south from the capital and beginning to reach the Nuba Mountains, where Mother of Mercy Hospital is located

More than ever, Dr. Tom and his staff will need to be fully resourced, ready to respond in the face of increased fighting and greater patient demand at the hospital.

“People may…say what we’re doing is just a drop in the ocean. But when you’re there, you don’t  see a drop in the ocean. You see a person.”

Tireless service – Dr. Tom is depended on as the sole surgeon to meet the needs of a hospital treating more than 75,000 patients every year.

Sudan Relief Fund and our supporters have long been the faithful providers of nearly all the medicines Dr. Tom needs to keep Mother of Mercy Hospital running day in and day out.

In the face of this great need, this matching gift opportunity couldn’t be more providentially-timed to help raise funds for Mother of Mercy.

Remember that all donations will be matched from now until September 29th, up to $100,000!

Always On Call – Dr. Tom will often rise in the middle of the night to respond to emergencies.

Imagine doubling every gift given right now to help Dr. Tom have everything he needs to continue his lifesaving work in the Nuba Mountains.

Every day supplies are needed to serve the patients who arrive injured or sick – medicines, bandages, IV’s, anesthesia – all of these critical elements are supplied by your partnership with Sudan Relief Fund. Dr. Tom and Mother of Mercy Hospital fully depend on them.

“Meeting Tom Catena is the closest I have come to meeting a saint.” – Andrew Berends, Time Magazine

As the fighting in Sudan continues to injure and displace innocent people and move south toward the Nuba Mountains, more patients will be flooding in to Mother of Mercy Hospital for help.

It’s imperative Dr. Tom has the supplies he needs to be ready to face an escalation of war. One thing is for certain: Dr. Tom won’t give up on the patients or people who need him. Won’t you please stand with Dr. Tom now and help us provide for him during his time of need?

Neil A. Corkery


Neil A. Corkery President

PS - With your generous help and the gracious matching opportunity now through September 29th, we can be sure Dr. Tom has all the supplies he needs to serve the hundreds of patients arriving daily at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Will you join us in reaching out to help Dr. Tom? Remember any gift you give right now will have twice the impact.

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