This past week, Dr. Boachie, the head of our partner organization FOCOS, and the top spine surgeon in the world, visited us for 3 full days. On Monday and Tuesday, we saw about 130 patients, both patients who have had surgery and those needing surgery. He commented “Rick, this is a marathon. I have never seen spines like this in my life. You need a multi-million dollar center with 10 spine specialists.”
At this moment, we have 18 patients in Ghana, and unexpectedly, he offered to do several more procedures in Ghana at the end of the week. We quickly chose 7 patients who have passports:
From Left to Right:
- Sinkinesh is a young girl with growing rods, going for adjustment.
- Anaf is a young boy with growing rods, going for adjustment.
- Hamza is a young boy going for the first time to have traction and then growing rods started.
- Tesfaw is a paralyzed boy with spine issues and neurofibromatosis. He will go into traction and then have surgery, and he has a fair chance of being able to walk again.
- Solomon is a high school student with severe scoliosis who will go into traction.
- Getachew, one of the worst spines on the planet. His back is horizontal. He has been our patient for 5 years, and a very patient patient at that – he comes every 4 months, and up till now we have been unable to help him. Often on his visits he would give me small gifts – a bottle of water or, my favorite, a roll of toilet paper. Now that traction is available, we have the possibility of helping these worst spines. On exam, we found that he has some flexibility, despite his 2 curves – one of about 100 degrees and one of at least 160 degrees. Luckily, his nervous system is still working quite well. He will go into traction for 2 months to see how much we can “uncoil” his spine.
- Yared is a young boy with growing rods going for adjustment.
I should point out that the entire number of patients in the growing rod database of the United States and Canada is 400. We have 20 kids with growing rods right now, with more in-progress.
Please spread the word, and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Rick Hodes, MD, MACP
Photos and stories used with permission.