Zewdie’s First Essay

Zewdie, is a former patient who had TB of the spine with a 120 degree angle in his low back. We sent him to Ghana where he had 5 vertebrae removed and his spine rebuilt. He is now a new high school student in Ohio.

He just emailed his very first English assignment – “write about the most successful person you know.”

My first essay:

In my opinion the most successful person I know is named Dr. rick hodes , he is an American doctor, but he lives in Ethiopia, which is my country for many years now. I have known him for seven years and I have been living with him almost six years and He does a lot of medical works in Ethiopia and all over African countries, He is the most generous doctor which I have ever met. He works every day without any spear time and he has many types of work in African countries based on many medical treatments. He does work on sending patients for spine surgery in Ghana and in America like twenty or surety people at one time and he does this three or four times in a year. I’m one of his spine patient’s. And another one is for heart surgery, he sends them to India and America in different times, in a year and also he gives out medicines for cancer allover African countries, but most of the time in Ethiopia.

He is the most thoughtful, helpful and kind person that I have ever seen since I lived with him. And he is the most successful person in my opinion I saw, after being living with him for six years now I got a chance to go to school in America and he is the one who does this for me. And I’m school in America now, with American kids, but no one from my country I’m the only one in my school Ohio thanks to rick. I have a lot of thing to say about him, this is just small story, if my English becomes better and I’m smart enough I would like write a book about him and Share his great work in the world.

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Ephrem – welcome to a new life!

18 year old Ephrem, has very severe scoliosis, and has been my patient for over 5 years. At one point he was sent to the USA and discovered to have an undetected heart problem, in addition to his spinal deformity. In 2011, he traveled to India with his dad to undergo repair of his aortic valve. When complications developed after surgery, it was replaced with a bioprosthetic valve.

It’s easy to assume that the worst curve a spine can have is 180 degrees – like a pancake folded on top of itself. I have many patients like that. Ephrem, however, had a 240 degree spine – his spine was shaped like a saxophone! Look at the model of his spine made by the CAT scan – Ephrem’s T10 vertebra – 10 bones down from the back of his neck – is higher than the first bone (T1)!

Earlier this year, we sent Ephrem to Ghana for treatment of his spine, one of the worst we have attempted. In Ghana, he had 6 holes drilled in his skull, screws inserted, a metal halo attached, and he was put into ambulatory/walking traction to slowly uncurl his spine for several months. Then he underwent a long surgery by the FOCOS team, which included 14-level spinal fusion, thoracoplasty, and multiple osteotomies.

Ephrem returned last week and looks fantastic. He’s healing well, and told me he can’t wait to start school – to become an engineer.

We greatly admire Ephrem’s positive attitude.

Ephrem – welcome to your new life!


Funding for Ephrem provided by Mending Kids International, and the Ethiopian Family Fund.

Ephrem’s story shared with permission.

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12 Kids Return from Ghana

Tonight we got 12 kids back from surgery in Ghana. Four remain behind healing.

– Dr. Rick