New emergency appeal – with matching grant: Please – help us save Aliya’s life!

URGENT: We need raise $20,000 right away to save a young girl named Aliyah from becoming paralyzed. A wonderful donor is matching all donations up to $10,000. Please help us save Aliyah– donate today.


Aliyah first came to us in April as a paralyzed 9 year old girl. She returned a couple of weeks ago on the Saturday before Ethiopian Orthodox Easter. We usually close that day so our staff can prepare for the holiday. It’s a good thing we stayed open. While most of our Christian patients stayed home, we had plenty of Moslem patients who came in. Last patient of the day? Aliyah and both parents.

IMG_6422They live in the Silte region, 3 ½ hours away by car, followed by a 4 hour walk. When Aliyah became paralyzed months ago, both parents moved to Addis Ababa and rented a room in Akaki, outside Addis Ababa. Their rent? $5 per month. Her mom is 9 months pregnant at this moment, due any day. But both parents were at her side, absolutely dedicated to her health.

Aliyah has a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis – NF for short. About 4% of our spine patients have NF. She became paralyzed about 6 months ago. She was admitted to the university hospital for 3 weeks and got somewhat better. On her initial exam with us in April, she had signs of upper spinal cord compression – her big toes pointed up on Babinsky test. And she had super-active reflexes.

In recent weeks, she has had some return of feeling in he body and regained the ability to control her urine. I drove her myself to scanning center an hour before it closed for Easter. She is in a super-precarious situation. Her spine is dangerously unstable – it has a Z-shaped deformity, which we sometimes see in our NF patients. Even though she is a bit better, Dr. Boachie advised:

“Rick, this girl may be OK, but not for long. Her only chance of improving is immediate traction and later stabilization. But no guarantees. It is almost a dislocated spine.”

When I told a visiting physician who saw her with me that we’ll need at least $20,000 to try to save her, he said: “Rick – I’m in Ethiopia, and now God has put us together. I’ll match her donations – dollar-for-dollar – up to $10,000. Tell your donors.”

So now I am asking you all to generously donate $10,000 for her treatment in Ghana. As Dr. Boachie said, there’s no guarantee of success. But without our efforts, she will become paralyzed.

With gratitude,

Dr. Rick

story and photos used with full permission

The JDC is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.

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deformed spine x-rays

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deformed spine x-rays 9

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The JDC is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.

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