We can help Solomon walk for the first time!

DSC00242Friends – we need YOUR help to change Solomon’s life.

Solomon had polio as an infant and has always been in a wheelchair. He has a very twisted spine and has lost over half his lung capacity.

Solomon is from a town in S. Gondar called Debre Tabor. He was a solid high school student and has just registered to study computers and database management in college, a good field for someone confined to a wheelchair.

Solomon reports that his classmates were helpful and friendly, and he was never teased. We see amazing kindness here. He is the 4th of 6 kids. His dad is a government worker, and his mom a housewife.

The family assumed there was no treatment, and he never consulted a doctor. However, Solomon’s niece was born with a cleft lip and came to Addis Ababa for surgery. They asked if there is any spine doctor in Ethiopia and were referred to our clinic.

On exam, we were happy to see that while Solomon has the thin legs of a patient who has survived polio, he does have some working muscles, and he’s able to lift 1 leg against gravity and move the other side-to-side.

We immediately saw that this is a kid we can really help. What he needs – and has needed for a decade – is to spend a couple of months in ambulatory traction and then have corrective surgery.

He has good upper body strength and is very flexible, a good sign that his traction will be easy and short – about 2 months – and then have surgery.

Because he has upper arm strength and some leg motion, there is at least a possibility that they can put braces on his legs (making them inflexible) and he could walk for the first time in his life with crutches or with parallel bars. Walking with straight legs and crutches takes a lot of energy, but it may give him mobility which he does not have now.

Certainly, even if he can’t walk after surgery, he will be better because his back will be straight and his lungs expanded.

One of the problems which polio patients face in the second half of their lives is post-polio syndrome which weakens the muscles. If this happens, then having his back straight and lungs expanded may well save his life.

I am excited to be able to send him for surgery. Now we need your help to raise funds for him!

This is a kid whom we can really help and completely turn around his life. Wouldn’t that be amazing – walking upright for the first time at age 18?!

We need your help to send Solomon to FOCOS Hospital in Accra for traction and surgery by the great Dr. Boachie and his team. We need to raise $20,000. Every gift helps, please join in.

All my best,

Rick Hodes, MD, MACP

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Huge News: Mushida went from paralysis to walking!

17In medicine, things don’t always work out as planned, we all know that.

On the other hand, sometimes we simply feel like we hit a home run.

In early January of this year, Mushida showed up at our clinic, carried in piggy-back by her mom. What unfolded was an unexpected story.

Mushida is the youngest of 9 children in a rural Oromo Moslem family from Jiru, north of Addis Ababa. She lives a 5-hour bus ride away, followed by an hour on a donkey. Her dad is a farmer, they grow maize and some wheat. All 9 children were born at home, delivered by local women with limited knowledge of childbirth. All are alive and healthy, except for Mushida.

The family lives in a mud home with no electricity. They wake when the sun comes up, work in their fields, and return as the sun is going down. They eat dinner to “kuraz,” oil lamps, at 8PM. They pray at a local mosque 5 times a day. Their diet is based on injera made of maize and shiro (beans). They eat meat twice a year, on holidays.

As a child, they noted that the lower part of Mushida’s body was darker than the top. Because she had not been to a doctor, nobody knew that this was the sign of a genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis. Her back began deforming as a young girl and was getting worse.

One day in July 2016, Mushida woke up paralyzed. They prayed for health and waited several months, but there was no improvement. The family had no extra money, but her caring dad made a tough decision – to rent half his land, for 3 years, take this money and bring her to Addis Ababa for medical care. He found a taker and rented the land for a total of 4000 birr – about $175. They took a bus to Addis Ababa and went to an orthopedic doctor. They were told she could be treated for 40,000 birr – over $1700. This was impossible. They asked around and were directed to AaBET Hospital where we see patients.

Dr. Rick was out of the country at that moment, so they waited 5 days, sleeping on hospital benches until he returned. On January 11 he drove her to a CT scan and MRI. They noted that she had a terrible spine deformity they nickname a “gamma,” – it has a Z-shape with a right spine, a middle spine, and a left spine. Technically this deformity is classified as “complex multi-planar transpositional deformity, alpha type.”

Though she had been paralyzed for 5 months, she still had some bowel and bladder function, and she still had a great spirit.

15A few days later, Rick brought her and another patient to FOCOS Hospital in Accra, where she went into traction, 23 hours a day. After several months of traction, she underwent a 6-hour surgery led by Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei. She had spinal fusion from T3-L4. She had 3 vertebrae removed (VCR from T9-11) with a cage placed. She had bone grafting and instrumentation. She now has 4 rods and 18 screws.

This was followed by physical therapy. Amazingly, Mushida started walking again.
And walking easily! After 2 months of therapy, she returned to Addis Ababa. After a week in the capital, her brother came and they returned home this week.

Mushida is profoundly grateful for her health. Her goal: “I just want to go to school and finish high school, then I’ll figure out what I want to do.” Mushida – we know you can make it!

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