Please help us save Abdi’s life!

Here is your chance to save the life of an Ethiopian student!

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Abdi is a 19-year-old university student, studying mechanical engineering at Welaita University. He is a very good student. And he has overcome a lot to get there.

Abdi comes from an observant Moslem family from the town of Asela. The family speaks Oromo language at home. They fast on Ramadan, celebrate on the holidays, and the boys walk to the local mosque every day.

He has 4 siblings: His older sister Hanan is a teacher, Mustafa works as a welder, and his sister Shekukri is a nursing student, and brother Melkias is in 8th grade.

His dad is a guard at a cow laboratory, and supports the family on $44/month before taxes. They own 1 cow, and do farming, producing 400 kg of barley per year. They live in a rented 3-room mud home with a corrugated aluminum roof (“korkoro” in the local language). Each room has a single dim light bulb. Water and toilet are outside. Their house rent? $3.70. Per year.

Abdi had a tough childhood. As his spine deformed, he was unable to walk on hills or long distances. Local kids would taunt him with the word “gobata,” a strong insult, meaning “hunchback.” Despite this, he was among the top 10 students at high school, and was admitted to a great school – Welaita University where he is a solid student, majoring in mechanical engineering. He gets help from his older sister, who send him $14/month for books and expenses.

All this is remarkable in itself, without a bad back – a boy from a poor family who has done great. But he walked into my office and said “I have a bad back, can you help me?”

We have examined over 3,000 Ethiopians with spinal deformities in the past 13 years, and he is one of the worst. His spine has been deforming since he was young, it is shaped like a saxophone, where T8 is higher than T2. While he is neurologically intact, his spinal deformity is literally crushing his lungs.

We own a breathing machine, and did lung tests – Abdi’s lung function (vital capacity) is 6% predicted. In the photos shown, we have used the CT scan’s “lung window” to show his lungs in blue, and the last slide is the lungs of a healthy 14 year old who had been scanned that day as well, for comparison.

Abdi is breathing with his abdominal muscles, and has no reserve. If he gets pneumonia, he will die. But we have done complex tests, “his heart is normal and the pressure in his lungs is not dangerous (minimal pulmonary hypertension).

Abdi wants to finish school and work as an engineer, marry, and have children. But Abdi’s condition is not sustainable. His only hope? Going to FOCOS Hospital in Ghana and going into ambulatory traction for months, followed by surgery to reshape his spine. There is no guarantee of success, but without this, he is bound to have a much shorter lifespan.

Our challenge: to raise $40,000 to help Abdi get to Ghana for surgery. Please help!

Many thanks,

Dr. Rick Hodes

Story and photos posted with Abdi’s permission

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Patient profile (8/24): Asaye

Asaye is a 15-year-old who graciously gave up his position in our last group to Ghana due to another patient who was in more urgent need. He is from Gambella, three days from Addis Ababa by bus, where his dad is a farmer. As a top student in his 6th-grade class, he dreams of becoming a doctor. Asaye has severe congenital scoliosis and will need traction followed by complex surgery to reshape his spine.

We recently sent 24 patients to Ghana for life-saving spine surgery, and we need to raise money in order to fund their treatment. Please donate today to help Asaye!

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Patient profile (7/24): Menbere

Menbere is a 22-year-old orphan who started spine surgery for her TB kyphosis in Addis Ababa last year. It had to be curtailed early due to lack of blood. She was partly paralyzed afterwards, but has gotten somewhat better. She is in chronic pain, and needs revision of her surgery.

We recently sent 24 patients to Ghana for life-saving spine surgery, and we need to raise money in order to fund their treatment. Please donate today to help Menbere!

 

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Patient profile (6/24): Bires

rick-hodes-ethiopian-spine-deformity-bires-1Bires, 24, was in a program for handicapped Ethiopians to learn tailor skills in Gondar. A classmate told him that he could receive spine surgery through us and advised him to find us in Addis Ababa.

He asked his brother, a priest, to bring him to Addis Ababa, but they did not have $20 for bus fare. The brother considered selling a cow, but his wife was not having it; so instead, they walked eight days to get to us — over 250 miles! At night they would knock on strangers’ doors and announce “we are guests sent to you by God,” and they’d be welcomed into homes.

Bires has a saxophone-shaped congenital scoliosis deformity, and he will need months of traction and complex surgery to reshape his spine. He has lost over 50% of his lung function.

We recently sent 24 patients to Ghana for life-saving spine surgery, and we need to raise money in order to fund their treatment. Please donate today to help Bires!

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Patient profile (5/24): Meseret

Meseret is a 26-year-old from Gondar who is at the top of his 8th-grade class. He comes from a family of farmers, and he currently lives with an uncle. Meseret’s dream is to become a doctor and return to his village.

He has severe kyphosis from TB (of the spine) and has lost 40% of his lung volume as a result. He will need months of traction followed by removal of vertebrae (VCR) to correct this.

We recently sent 24 patients to Ghana for life-saving spine surgery, and we need to raise money in order to fund their treatment. Please donate today to help Meseret!

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Patient profile (4/24): Brook

Brook is a 9 year old orphan who lives with his grandmother in Addis Ababa. Kind neighbors often given them food. He has an S-shaped juvenile scoliosis deformity. He must get “growing rods” to allow his spine to grow without becoming terribly deformed. Brook is at the top of his class, and wants to be a doctor.

We recently sent 24 patients to Ghana for life-saving spine surgery, and we need to raise money in order to fund their treatment. Please donate today to help Brook!

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Patient profile (3/24): Habtamu

Habtamu has spinal cord damage (myelopathy) from his gamma deformity. His neurologic function is getting worse, and he has more difficulty walking. His parents are illiterate farmers in Tilili in Gojjam. A 9th grade student, he needs months of traction and then removal of vertebrae (VCR). He wants to be a nurse.

We recently sent 24 patients to Ghana for life-saving spine surgery, and we need to raise money in order to fund their treatment. Please donate today to help Habtamu!

 

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