Early Wednesday morning, we met 24 patients in the airport, and successfully got them onto their flight to Accra, accompanied by our nurse. We also sent 20 kilos of dried Ethiopian injera to eat, as well as several hundred packets of PlumpyNut, a peanut-based nutritional supplement. Luckily, there’s a PlumpyNut factory here in Ethiopia.
This is a very diverse group – they range in age from 7 to 27; some have scoliosis (S-shaped spine), some have kyphosis (forward-bent spine) due to TB or congenital. We have all religions and many ethnicities. Tesfalem, from Axum, had a 2-day bus ride to get to Addis Ababa with his mom.
Several children need “growing rods” which will grow with them for years. One of the kids is wonderful 8 year old girl who is also a dwarf. A young woman and young man, an accountant and an artist respectively, are in their late 20s and walk with crutches due to having polio when they were young.
Many patients have huge challenges with multiple spine angles over 100 degrees. Some have lost over 70% of their lung volume – look at the photo of Sintayehu, compared with me, and consider the size of his lungs. Our belts are at the same level – we should be the same height. All the difference has come out of his chest.
Patients with severe deformities will have 4 holes drilled into their skulls then spend months in sitting, walking, and lying-down traction, 23 hours a day, as their spines slowly straighten before surgery. Stay tuned for more details.
Please consider donating to help them, as well as so many others here in our care.
We are now following about 1400 spine patients! Please keep them in your
Dr. Rick Hodes and the JDC-Ethiopia Spine Team
Photos and X-rays presented with permission.