Dr. Nunn: Transforming Surgery Through Training

Dr. Tim (center) sees every surgery as an opportunity to mentor the next generation of doctors for Ethiopia.
Dr. Tim (center) sees every surgery as an opportunity to mentor the next generation of doctors for Ethiopia.

Before Dr. Timothy Nunn became a leading orthopedic surgeon—he was a patient.

A serious ankle injury when he was young caused him to spend significant time in casting and in the hospital for orthopedic surgeries. “I was always interested in orthopedics, having personally seen what it entails,” he recalls.

His footsteps led him from orthopedic patient to orthopedic surgical resident (after a stop at All Nations Christian College in the UK to study biblical and intercultural studies). And, after surgical training in the UK, he practiced for two years in South Africa, with a focus on orthopedic trauma. From there, he could have worked almost anywhere in the world. But, he began to learn about CURE from other physicians in the British orthopedic community. He was drawn to the mission of providing surgical care to children and introducing families to Jesus.  

“I visited CURE Kenya and Malawi, both inspirational visits,” he says. “It was clear that gospel proclamation in deed and word were important factors at CURE.”

Prayers were answered when, through generous donor support, CURE Ethiopia was able to hire Dr. Tim in 2014. He, along with his wife and three children, now consider Ethiopia home, and he serves as Medical Director at CURE Ethiopia. 

“It is a privilege to serve in Ethiopia,” he says. “There is a unique history and culture, and nationals have been so welcoming and friendly that my family now see it as our home. This is the place where I have been led.”

The Best for the Least

Dr. Tim sees firsthand how lack of access to medical care leaves children with treatable disabilities overwhelmingly vulnerable to ridicule, shame, poverty, and even abuse.  

“Financial costs of surgery to correct a treatable disability are well out of reach of the average person in Ethiopia. CURE provides free-to-patient medical care of the highest quality,” Dr. Tim says. “This is a kingdom value that in a small measure helps to address the injustices in healthcare access which are seen daily at CURE hospitals around the network.”

Dr. Tim performed life-changing surgery for Kasib, who said, “If I get healed and walk without my stick, I want to start school!”

As part of the orthopedic surgical team at CURE, Dr. Tim has brought life-changing surgery to thousands of children like Kasib, who was born with a condition causing his legs to bend inward at odd angles. As Kasib grew, his condition got worse until he couldn’t walk. Unable to make the long journey to school, Kasib’s access to opportunities to reach his potential were fading. When he was referred to CURE’s hospital for surgery by a partner organization, Dr. Tim was one of the surgeons God used to restore Kasib’s ability to walk, return to school, and dream of a future.

“We are grateful to our amazing donors and supporters who have a heart for these children who are the ‘least’ and ‘last’ in the queue when it comes to access to care,” Dr. Tim says. “As there are over 50 million children in Ethiopia, the need for pediatric orthopedic services is vast.”

Training to Multiply Impact

In the countries where we serve, CURE is often the only surgical hospital equipped to treat the millions of children in need of care. Across our network of eight hospitals, we are committed to training and multiplying local leaders to become the next generation of national surgeons and healthcare workers. Dr. Tim helps lead these training initiatives for CURE in Ethiopia, where there are only 77 doctors for every 1 million people—and only one of those doctors is an orthopedic surgeon. (For comparison, there are 55 surgical specialists for every 100,000 people in the US.)

CURE Ethiopia is accredited by the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and South Africa and trains 25+ surgeons each year through residency and fellowship programs–partnering with the local government and organizations like the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons.

Dr. Tim says, “With approximately 5,000 children on the waitlist at CURE Ethiopia, increasing the country’s number of qualified medical professionals through training is one of the best ways to alleviate this waitlist and provide more children the care they desperately need.“

In 2022, Dr. Tim was integral in helping add a pediatric spine service to serve the nation’s thousands of children with life-limiting scoliosis. The hospital performed its first spine surgeries earlier this year, in partnership with African Mission Healthcare, Tim Tebow Foundation, and visiting surgical teams from US hospitals. 

“I am passionate about healing pediatric patients because their treatable disability robs them of an opportunity for a full and productive life,” Dr. Tim says. “Working together, we can serve children and their families in need.”

Pictured Clockwise: Registered Nurse Asrat Shita, visiting Dr. Victoria Kuester, Dr. Stefano Bolongaro, and Dr. Timothy Nunn perform surgery to correct Haniel’s scoliosis. / Haniel is all smiles after her surgery. / Haniel’s scoliosis is evident in her pre-surgery x-ray.
Photo of the CURE International Canada

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