A Year End Message from Mieraf, Gedion and Dr. Rick


MierafMy name is Mieraf, and I’m a 15 year old girl in Addis Ababa. 4 years ago, I first consulted Dr. Rick because I had a severe, progressive spine deformity. I prefer not to show photos, but try putting your hand inside your armpit and touching the top of your hip – when I visited Dr. Rick, my armpit and my hip were 3 fingers apart! I had lost 75% of my lung capacity and had difficulty breathing. I was often teased in school.

A doctor I consulted referred me to  the JDC Spine program. With funding from an award Dr. Rick won from the MountainFilm Festival in Telluride, Colorado,  I flew to Ghana in 2009. I went into traction, and then Dr. Boachie operated on me at the university hospital. My recovery was rough, but I made it. I later learned that my father was phoning Dr. Rick for updates 3 times a day!

The following year, I flew to Telluride to thank the film festival for their funding – I addressed a full auditorium of people, and received a standing ovation!

Now I’m in 8th  grade, I’m at the top of my class, and I am determined to be the first Ethiopian spine surgeon practicing inside Ethiopia.

I am grateful for all the medical care I’ve received, and for everyone who supports it.



GedionMy name is Gedion, and I am a 22 year old university student. I graduated from public high school in Addis Ababa, then studied accounting and finance at Gondar University. I graduated  3rd in my entire class.

My spine has been getting worse since I was 4 years old, and until recently, I had a huge right-sided curve. By chance, I ran into a JDC staff person in a hospital while getting an x-ray, and learned of the JDC spine program. I consulted Dr. Rick in 2011. He  diagnosed scoliosis, with a 158 degree angle!  I had lost 56% of my lung function.

I flew to the FOCOS Hospital in Ghana in late 2012. I was put into traction for 3 months, and then was operated on by Dr. Boachie. I had some left leg weakness after surgery, but it is getting better.

After surgery, I am much straighter. I breath easier. And soon I will continue studying for my MBA degree at Arba Minch University. My goal is to finish my PhD and then teach at a university.

I thank Dr. Rick and JDC and FOCOS so much for their care.

I wish you all HAPPY HOLIDAYS, and ask you to donate generously, so that so many other patients can be helped.


Dear friends and supporters:

As I write this, we have not finished 2013, but we have over 350 new spine patients this year, as well as over 160 new heart patients. We have 26 spine patients in Ghana for traction and surgery at this moment. This week, I’m preparing the next group to go to India for heart surgery.

We cannot do this without your support. As the year ends, please remember our patients. All gifts, small and large, are gratefully accepted, and are fully tax-deductible. Everything helps!

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a superb 2014. Today I read a great quote about Christmas gifts, by Texas novelist Oren Arnold. Whatever holidays we celebrate, it is inspirational:


To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

With hope and gratitude,

Dr. Rick

Traction Ghana 5-2013