Breaking News from JDC-Ethiopia: 7 Patients to Ghana for Surgery

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:

7 spine patients patiently await surgery in Ghana

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.


Getachew has one of the worst spines we've ever seen.

Getachew has one of the worst spines we’ve ever seen.

Getachew has one of the worst spines we've ever seen. Getachew has one of the worst spines we've ever seen.

Getachew has one of the worst spines we've ever seen.

Dr. Boachie Visits Ethiopia

About 85 of our spine patients (already operated) showed up to meet Dr. Boachie, visiting from Ghana.

Dr. Boachie gave a talk and said he has 3 homes: Ghana, his birth place, America, the country which educated him, and Ethiopia, where most of his patients come from.

More than 80 post-op patients came to a party to greet Dr. Boachie, our chief spine surgeon.

At the event, a young man named Michael, the brother of our patient Nahum made the following remarks:

Your excellency Dr. Boachie, ladies and distinguished guests,

First allow me to make a speech in behalf of all the family who would like to say “Welcome” to you. I am the eldest brother of Nahom, and came 900 km by bus to Addis Ababa from Adigrat in Tigrai to celebrate this occasion.

Yesterday was the day worrying about our children’s health condition and today is tomorrow we going to see not the health status of our children but the real time to see the ripened fruit of our flourishing children.

The people who are participating here in the session, we the family who were under mental stress for last several years. But thanks to commitment of Dr. Rick, Ghana medical staffs, and Dr. Rick’s beloved staff, our children are saved now.

Today here are professionals who involved to save our children are found amongst us just we proud of you.

In sacrificing your time, energy and finance as well we don’t have any potential to grace your work. We really fell words to express the appreciation and love towards you and JDC and FOCOS. Just God bless you all the time.

Thank you for attention. 

Dr. Boachie and patient Yerusalem, now healed and back in school.

Brother of patient Nahom, reading his letter thanking us.

Patient Zerihun and his (blind) dad. Zerihun had surgery over a year ago and is now well.