Last summer we were contacted by Stella, a mother in Uganda who was concerned about her ten-year-old daughter, Treasure. Treasure had recently been diagnosed with a type of severe scoliosis called kyphoscoliosis.
Just about a year before reaching out to us, Stella noticed that one of Treasure’s shoulders was much lower than the other. She attributed it to the heavy books that Treasure carried in a shoulder bag for school and didn’t think much about it. A few months later, she noticed that Treasure had a bulge at the top of her back and was unable to straighten her back at all. She rushed her to the doctor, who attempted to use bracing to slow the curvature. Unfortunately, Treasure’s spine continued to curve rapidly, putting her internal organs and heart function at great risk.
The doctor advised that Treasure get immediate surgery, but Stella felt completely hopeless to be able to fund this risky surgery as a single, recently unemployed mom of four.
When Stella first contacted LWB, we were hopeful that we could help connect Treasure with a charity that does spinal repairs, either by bringing patients to the US or through a medical mission outreach to Uganda. However, again and again, we heard from charities, “we’d love to help, but her case is just too complex for us” In the course of investigating options and talking to experts in the field of spinal surgery, one name kept coming up as someone who may be able to help Treasure: Dr. Boachie-Adjei at the FOCOS hospital in Ghana. We reached out to FOCOS, and Dr Boachie took one look at Treasure’s charts and told us that he was confident he could help Treasure and to please send her to Ghana as soon as possible.
After many tests and evaluations, the care team in Ghana told us Treasure was receiving treatment just in the nick of time, as her lungs were so compromised that she wouldn’t have survived much longer. They did an immediate surgery to relieve some of the pressure, and Treasure had to be placed on a ventilator. We were all so worried but gave enormous thanks when she finally was able to be extubated and get ready for the next stage of her healing.
Treasure now has to in traction for an extended period of time before she undergoes the second surgery to fuse her back. Extended spinal traction is a hard thing for any eleven-year-old to swallow, but Treasure has taken it in stride. She says that the hope of returning to school with a straight back is what gives her the strength to get through this process. She has also been encouraged by other patients at FOCOS who are in the final stages of their repairs — patients from countries as diverse as Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Nepal. When Treasure was initially placed in traction, a group of her new friends came to visit her immediately after her procedure to encourage her and have been telling her exactly what to expect each step of the way.
We anticipate that Treasure will be in traction for at least the next eight weeks. The hospital contains a library as well as a computer lab, so this dedicated student can keep up with her schoolwork.
We will continue to update you on Treasure’s progress and hope that you will join us in cheering her along in her courageous journey. Our thanks go out to everyone who donates to our general fund. Just look what your support has made possible!