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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