Mid-Year Update On Our Life-Saving Work In Ethiopia

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

We aim to straighten the backs, and fix the hearts of Ethiopian youth. At mid-year, we want to give you an update, thank you, and ask for your help.

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Helping More Patients Every Year!

  • 2006: 20 new spine patients, 11 spine surgeries
  • 2014: ~400 new spine patients, over 75 spine surgeries
  • 2015 (1st half): 271 new spine patients, 100 spine surgeries, 12 heart surgeries and procedures
  • Total to date: over 510 spine surgeries completed in Ghana, Ethiopia, India, and America since 2006. Over 50 children with adjustable “growing-rods” to help them grow and maintain straight backs. About 2,000 spine patients in our program.

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Morale is very high in our program. We are filled with patients who volunteer in our clinic after their surgery, and have had four patients return to Ghana as staff:

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We’ve had ~428 Ethiopians operated in Ghana through June, 2015. If this was done in the USA, it would cost $85 million dollars! Our cost in Ghana is significantly less than 10% of that.

We have supplied at least half of the patients in the international FOX Study, looking at outcomes of the most extreme patients in the world, with spinal deformities of over 100 degrees. Knowledge gained from these extreme patients will benefit spine patients across the planet.

Dr. Boachie has been to Addis Ababa twice this year, and evaluated over 200 patients with us, then did a dozen surgeries on kids with “growing rods.” The North American registry has about 400 kids with “growing rods,” we in Ethiopia have about 50! He will return for another round of evaluations and surgery in November. And while we have plans and priority lists, emergencies arise. 14-year old Eyob Wondwossen with neuromuscular scoliosis was seen by Dr. Boachie and Dr. Wolf, his anesthesiologist and given our highest priority to save his life. He left for Ghana with his mom as caregiver, in May. 

We aim to send 100 spine patients to Ghana in 2015. A spine surgery costs $18-$22,500 in Ghana. We need to raise $2 million. We are their only hope.

Take a look at some of our patients:

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Our ultimate goal is to have a spine center in Addis Ababa to evaluate patients and perform basic surgery.

In the heart realm, we’ve gotten 100 new patients this year. We sent 13 patients to India for cardiac surgery and procedures this year, and we’re planning a group in the coming months. We’re also treating 2 boys for bone cancer right now.

Changes in visa rules have caused us to lose our foreign volunteers. Instead, we are hiring local staff. A new Ethiopian orthopaedic resident has joined us, and intends to enter training in spine surgery.  On a typical clinic day we also have 4 or 5 former patients who show up to volunteer:

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We have upgraded our computer systems, and are establishing a cloud-based digital medical records system, probably the only one in Ethiopia.

We are in close contact with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, and may move our headquarters to a new hospital in Addis Ababa in the coming months.

Noted spine surgeon Prof. Kamal Ibrahim will be making his first trip to us in September to discuss long-term collaboration.

We’d like to publicly thank our partners:

  • Dr. Oheneba Boachie
  • Adjei and FOCOS hospital, Ghana
  • University of Rochester Pathology Department
  • AIMS Amrita Hospital, Cochin, India
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada Gondar University, Ethiopia
  • Share Tsedek Hospital, Jerusalem
  • Dr. Dan Fink of Shaare Zedek Medical Center
  • Dr Ted Belanger of Texas Back in Dallas
  • Long Island Spine Specialists has done a free surgery for us

Wish you all a great summer, and hope you can visit us here !

Please support us as generously as you can. And forward this to all your friends and family.

– Dr. Rick Hodes and the JDC-Ethiopia spine and heart team


Donation through our website link to the JDC donations site, and is fully tax- deductible. 100% goes to our project in Ethiopia. Contact us with questions about mailing checks: ethiopianspines@gmail.com

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