I recently sent the following letter to Dr. Todd Rosengart, a cardiac surgeon at the Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, NY. In the letter, I tell the story of Marcos, a former heart patient of mine in the late 1980’s, who is now a healthy and newly-married! Enjoy the story and the picture that follows:
Dear Dr. Rosengart,
I am an American physician from Syosset, NY, working in Ethiopia for over 20 years.
In the 1980s, when I was teaching and practicing cardiology at Addis Ababa University, I was confronted with many Ethiopian kids with correctable heart disease, both congenital and rheumatic.
Over a few years, I was able to send over 25 heart patients abroad for surgery, several to Stony Brook via Healing the Children. For example, in about 1987 and again in 1989 I sent Markos Bekele and Andalem Habtemichael to Long Island. They had surgeries at Stonybrook.
I’d like to tell you about Markos: One day in about 1986, someone knocked on my office door on the 8th floor of the university hospital in Addis Ababa. It was 13 year old Markos Bekele, and his older brother. Markos was clearly an ill boy, he was thin, weak, and blue (cyanotic), with marked clubbing of the nail beds. He could only walk 3 steps without stopping to catch his breath, at our 8000 feet altitude. He was completely housebound, unless his older brother carried him piggy-back outside.
I confirmed that he had tetrology of Fallot, and with your help, sent him twice to Stonybrook, where he had surgery by Dr. Anagnastopolous. At first, he had a shunt created, and a year or 2 later, he had the definitive correction.
Markos is now healthy, and is a well-known soccer coach in Addis Ababa. Today, the boy who could not walk 3 steps, easily walked down the aisle to get married. I attended Markos’ wedding. Along with me was Andalem Habtemichael, who had closure of a PDA and correction of scoliosis at Stonybrook, with multiple complications and months of hospitalization. Andalem is now an accountant and owner of a pizzeria.
To end with thank you seems completely inadequate, but what else can I say?
At the very least, thank you, thank you.
With best wishes,
Rick Hodes, MD, MACP
Medical Director, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Photos posted with permission.
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