What it is like being the only doctor in war-torn Sudan's Nuba Mountains

Tom Catena, who moved to Africa ten years ago, is the only doctor at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Sudan's Nuba Mountains.
8:26 | 04/13/18

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for What it is like being the only doctor in war-torn Sudan's Nuba Mountains
ever undand. Planes flying head. Opbs all arod you. That fear is reality F these children and theiramilies in Thea mountains of Sudan. And there's only oneoctor in the whole R to save the dying and treat the wod. He's got shrapnelgh the chest -- order: Dr. Tom Na in charge of mother O mercy hospital. Everybody'se is luable. And we can't lose sight O that or else we lose O humanity. Reporter: Wherevery single day he treats hundreds of tents. The lives of pe here matter ach as anywhere in thworld. A piece ofhrapnel in his liver. Reporter: Ten years ago this American surgeon left hisilyan friends to live in Africa, in aocation so dangerous no othertor in the wor lives there. The guy thatoes to a , Sep a practice stays there for 30, years, always thought twas the coolest I've always wd that as a doctor. Ie idea of staying in one pla and becoming part of the community. Reporter: For three weeks in 2014, and again I 2015, Phil ma Kenneth son, captured artbreaking scenes from Dr. Daily L for documentary heart nuba Hns to be one of the gr travestieshat no one knows about, no one talksabout. Orhe area is extremely ted. With the govent banning journalists andinternational he area.since 2011, there of Sudan, OMAR H Al Bashir, has been waging Al war Ast his own people. OMAR hasanlba genocide, he los control of T southern part Sudan he has this desire to this part of the cou back because it's naturallesource rich. He' willing tol his own people so that he can have land? That's right.this is all arogram to discourage, to oppress these people, and to push out of this regi Reporter: Dr. Catena say he's treate than 2,600 people who a victims of a Bashir's age. Carlsoocuments the reign O terror and how Dr. Ca and E nuba people have turned the hospital into a symbol of their survival. We recently spokeith Dr. Catena via Skype. In the operating room, W did 15 operations- Why sacrifice so much for so long? It's a good question. Ink -- I think I take my models Jesus ch. I think Christ iseallyling us get rid fit, get rid of our whatever it is.I stillave this drive and this zeal. God willing, as long as I have the strength and energy carry on, I'd L to keep D it. Whatitut Dr. Dr. Tom is a close to a saint that I'veetthe face his Earth. Every morning H wak up at 5:30, alarm clock, after on call? Always on call, no one else there. Reporte Carlson and Dr. Catena attended college together, brown university, class of 1986. Na tra degree and high-ping job offers to fulfill his calling toe a or. My brotherfelix, I feel should to medical ol. He's like, what are you talking you're anengineer, what are you talking no, I think I should do We've got Dr. How he came, I don'tknow. From W he came, I don't know. I call it cle. Lower the table a bit. Flusut wound to LE open fracture. Dn't . Earn most of thege on E I was in Kenya for eight years working with a lot of different surgeons and did over 2, operations the this one I had learn from books. How is Heng it because itms like he's as E of the women in the pie , he's the physician, the necologist, the surgeon, he's Al that. Yeah. He is, as we Y, the line of defense. Ho do it all. And that's a huge O on him. As very view vaccin it's difficult work. Reporter: He treats everything from mes to cancer to warwounds. Even cares for a villagef people sufferomleprosy. The truth is, it is contagious, but it isot highly agious. Itertant to touch th people. They're part of the race like Ady else. Reporter: Some of the toughest cases involvechildren, like 2-year-old baby Rita. R has a pediatric tum of the kidneys. We've given her several C of chemotherapy to reduce tumor but the tumor remains we O take out this whole kidney and P of this kidney, then we' see. I don't kn ife don't do anything the baby will certainly die from T kidney Tu very difficuopation. It's a long . Reporter: Carlson'ser ar rolling as dr.catena removes fror from baby Rita. The surgery I long. See thahite pa that's the tumor. R: And gruing. Gently, gently --on't pull, okay? Rter: But miraculously a success. We' T her it went ll, she has part of the kid left, and the rest is I the hands of god. Eporter: Saving lives like Ta's is part of what K Dr. Tena from leaving. I knef I left, some peopled die. Nott I'm magi, but there's certain things I can do Thate of them will ive, that's a fact. So by ING, that to me says life is more important than R people's liwhich I don't a with. I jusink it's wrong. It's wrongthinking. Let me stick out with these guys. If you got shelled, let's see whatcan do.I'all-in. Reporter: Sticking it out meanving with the threat of abombardment. It's passiner there. And this one drops barrel bombs. T know when they fly overhead, they're frighteningople, the scaring people. Repr: Bombers often hit Ta very Clos by. The hospital itself has largely been safe, camerasere rollinen all of that changed. He feel is one just in fear. There's no other way describe it Here it comes. Reporter: Dr. Catena captured one of those attacks omera himself. Down, down -- Repr: Bombs just missed hospital. As you'rewaiting, that moment, everyth becomes crystal clear. Re just waiting thinking, is the I'm going to die?is this going to cut me in half and finish me off? A bomb hit here, which ight behinduse. Here's the fence that was destroyed. You can imagine if it hit here, I think they were tarng me, aiming for my H and they just missed it. Reporter: In the three years E the lm's production, the bombingsavestopped. The break in the fighting to the United States' lifting of nc sanions against Sudan. We've neenbed in over a year. I'm very thankful for that. Reporter: Dr. Catena H continued to make a life himself in nu Take this ring -- reporter: T years ago he marrie woman named messima whs also a N at the hoal. He's a training others to become doctors nurses to continue the work started. So can you Thi up and say ly Thau T doing god's ? Yes. I would say that's the simple answer. If I can go to my gravepite all my limitations, faults, I think iid god's work, I think ildie a happy man.at's my. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'linsey Davis in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"8:26","description":"Tom Catena, who moved to Africa ten years ago, is the only doctor at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Sudan's Nuba Mountains.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"54436679","title":"What it is like being the only doctor in war-torn Sudan's Nuba Mountains","url":"/Nightline/video/doctor-war-torn-sudans-nuba-mountains-54436679"}