24 patients depart for spine surgery in Ghana by Dr. Boachie’s FOCOS team


Early Wednesday morning, we met 24 patients in the airport, and successfully got them onto their flight to Accra, accompanied by our nurse. We also sent 20 kilos of dried Ethiopian injera to eat, as well as several hundred packets of PlumpyNut, a peanut-based nutritional supplement. Luckily, there’s a PlumpyNut factory here in Ethiopia.

This is a very diverse group – they range in age from 7 to 27; some have scoliosis (S-shaped spine), some have kyphosis (forward-bent spine) due to TB or congenital. We have all religions and many ethnicities. Tesfalem, from Axum, had a 2-day bus ride to get to Addis Ababa with his mom.

Several children need “growing rods” which will grow with them for years. One of the kids is wonderful 8 year old girl who is also a dwarf. A young woman and young man, an accountant and an artist respectively, are in their late 20s and walk with crutches due to having polio when they were young.

Many patients have huge challenges with multiple spine angles over 100 degrees. Some have lost over 70% of their lung volume – look at the photo of Sintayehu, compared with me, and consider the size of his lungs. Our belts are at the same level – we should be the same height. All the difference has come out of his chest.

Patients with severe deformities will have 4 holes drilled into their skulls then spend months in sitting, walking, and lying-down traction, 23 hours a day, as their spines slowly straighten before surgery. Stay tuned for more details.

Please consider donating to help them, as well as so many others here in our care.

We are now following about 1400 spine patients! Please keep them in your

Dr. Rick Hodes and the JDC-Ethiopia Spine Team

Photos and X-rays presented with permission.

Betelhem B pic

Betelhem B2

Betelhem B

Ababayehu pic


Ababayehu pic2



Foliyana pic


Foliyana back






Sint back Sint and me


Sint sp




Tesfalem (2)

Tesfahun T




Zinash 2


Zinash spine x-ray


Breaking News: 15 kids arrive back from Ghana tonight, straight and happy

It’s days like today that I feel like I’ve won the lottery!

We have had about 26 Ethiopians in Ghana for spine care for several months now. At this moment, 9 are in traction. Tonight, 15 patients returned to Ethiopia, 10 of whom had spent months in traction. One who had a particularly complicated course had been in Ghana for over 18 months! They were met by tearful families who were amazed to see the newfound health of their kids and relatives.

Take a look at their faces. In many cases, you can see small round circles about an inch over their eyes where the traction screws went in.

We are now working hard on our next group to send out in the coming weeks.

With happiness from Addis Ababa,

Dr. Rick and the JDC spine team