Bizuayehu (“I see a lot”) is a remarkable and courageous 23 year old woman from Mojo, about an hour outside of Addis Ababa. Her mother noticed that her spine was deforming when she was a baby. She took her to 2 hospitals, without any help.
As her spine deformed, in school she was shunned by other kids, and called hunchback (“gobata,”) a terrible insult. Her parents died when she was 14, and her sisters also gave her very little support. Despite this, she was able to graduate from high school and study computers for 3 years. Unable to find work, she lived in a mud hut, read a lot, and found inspiration in her Christian faith.
About a year ago, when her sister left to work in Dubai, Bizuayehu took a bus to Addis Ababa seeking help. A kind person offered her support and a place to live, and she was evaluated in our spine program.
We found a very complex deformity – her spine had a U-turn and an angle of over 150 degees. Moreover, her spinal cord was pierced by a piece of bone: technically, her MRI found scoliosis plus diastematomyelia, lipoma, and tethered spinal cord.
She travelled to Ghana in late 2013. She was put into traction for several months: Dr. Rick visited and took these photos. Later in Ghana, she underwent surgery which involved fusing from the 5th thoracic vertebra (T5) to the pelvis, as well as complete removal of her first lumbar vertebra (L1). She had 5 rods and 18 screws put into her spine. She had a slow recovery, complicated by temporary weakness in her left leg.
She will now return home, look for work, and try her best to make friends, find a job, and rebuild her life. Bizuayehu, we salute your courage!
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