Last month we introduced you to a beautiful 14 year old girl named Grace, from rural southwest Uganda. Grace has a very rare medical condition where thousands of small tumors have filled her abdomen, causing her great discomfort and also making it impossible for her to go to school.
Through an incredible series of events, one of the world’s leading experts in her condition, Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan with MD Anderson in Houston, learned of Grace’s story and agreed to fly to Africa in order to do the complex surgery. Thanks to your support, the funds needed for Grace to get this chance were raised in just a few days!
Grace at her home
Grace’s journey was not without a lot of bumps along the way, however. The operation needs to take place in the neighboring country of Kenya, at a mission hospital located several hours from Nairobi. Grace would need to travel a very long way, and when we first learned about her she was very weak and in a lot of pain from the swelling in her abdomen. Driving would take almost 20 hours, and Grace finds it difficult to sit in one position for long due to the pressure of the tumors.
Grace and her mom
The first issue needed to be addressed was Grace’s nutritional status, as she needed to be in the best health possible before undergoing what could be a 10+ hour operation. One of our LWB team members in Uganda (Shallon) helped Grace and her mom temporarily move right next door to where she lived, so that she could monitor Grace’s diet and make sure she received lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Within a week, Grace already looked so much healthier.
Grace and Shallon
The other major issue was getting permission for Grace to travel to another country for the surgery. Grace didn’t have a formal birth certificate, which is common in the rural areas of Uganda. Shallon took Grace and her mom to the appropriate offices to first get a formal certificate of birth and then to get all of the IDs and passes needed to cross the border into Kenya. Once that was completed, airline reservations were made, and it seemed like everything was coming together perfectly. On Monday they traveled by car across Uganda to reach the airport city of Entebbe, where a few more hurdles presented themselves.
Grace and her mom needed Yellow Fever certificates in order to cross into Kenya, so Shallon quickly got to work to solve that issue. But then the airline said Grace couldn’t board the flight without a formal letter stating she had an emergency medical need which could only be treated by leaving the country. Thank goodness for the power of the internet! Within a few short hours we had letters from physicians in the US and Kenya explaining how urgent her case was, and early this morning Grace, her mom, and Shallon flew on an airplane for the first time in their lives to Nairobi!
Waiting to board the flight
Grace’s life-changing operation will take place on Monday, July 3rd. We ask for you to please be thinking of Grace and her mom over the next few days as they prepare for such a huge surgery. It never could have happened without your support!