Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back to School for Fooday!

It's always special to have ortho kids with us, because they usually stay longer, thus giving us a chance to get to know them and love on them a little longer than cleft lip kids for instance, who come, have an operation and leave within 3 days.

This is again a great story form our ship's writers. As Christmas is coming (even though it's hot here), I try to give you more heart-warming stories like this. Enjoy!

"Volunteer nurse Melinda Kaney joyfully exclaimed, “The eight-plate surgery to straighten Fooday’s legs worked wonderfully!” Aladji, Fooday’s father, was so grateful that his eldest son’s journey to healing was complete. Fooday would now return to school and perhaps, one day, be a teacher – something his mother Yakha dreamed about for her son.

Fooday’s bowed legs started at the age of eighteen months when he began to walk. The prayers of his family for Fooday’s healing were answered when he was accepted for free surgery onboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship while it was in Sierra Leone.

 Eighteen months following his first surgery to straighten his bowed legs, Fooday, along with his father, Aladji, were transported to the Africa Mercy hospital ship, now docked in Conakry, Guinea. Fooday and other hospital patients enjoy a Bible story while staying at the Mercy Ships HOPE Center, which provides lodging for out-of-town patients before and after surgery.

Fooday’s start in life was tenuous, Aladji recalls. “Fooday was born prematurely. He was so tiny and weak, we didn’t think he would live. All of our family and the neighbors prayed for Fooday to pull through. By the grace of God, he did.”

When Fooday began walking at eighteen months, his parents noticed that his legs were bowed. The family’s meager income wasn’t enough to pay for the herbal poultices offered by the traditional healer. In desperation, Aladji resorted to beggging to raise money for Fooday’s sessions. Sadly, the traditional medicine did not help – the abnormal curve in Fooday’s legs worsened.
Volunteer physiotherapist Kalinda Ramsaran completes the assessment of Fooday’s leg movements. Fooday’s original eight-plate surgery was a complete success. The second and final step of Fooday’s journey, removing the eight-plates, was also successful. Fooday and his father, Aladji, both look forward to Fooday’s return to school.

Yakha explains how much they worried for their son. “Fooday had pain that kept him crying all night. But worse was the shame and hurt that I knew Fooday would go through with bent legs.” Yakha’s fears were well-founded. When Fooday started school at age five, other children continually laughed at him. After a few steps Fooday’s unsteady gait would falter, and he would fall. With each tumble Fooday faced another barrage of insults. Aladji and Yakha were heartbroken. The only safe place for Fooday was at home. He could no longer go to school.

Praying continually, Yakha and Aladji asked God for a miracle of healing for Fooday. Aladji clearly recalls the morning that their prayers were answered. “There was an announcement on the radio that a hospital ship was coming to provide free medical care. I heard that the hospital did surgeries for children with bent legs. Yakha and I were overjoyed.”

Within three weeks Fooday was onboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship for his free surgery. A small metal plate, in the shape of a figure eight, was attached to the outside of each of his leg bones. The eight-plate, designed to slowly correct the bow in Fooday’s legs, would also allow the bones to grow straight in the future. When successful, this technique avoids a much larger operation that requires the bones to be broken and reset.

Now Fooday can run, jump and play with straight and steady legs. He can return to school and be accepted by the other children. Fooday’s mother, Yakha, prays for her son to one day become a teacher.  
Fooday shows off his straight-as-an-arrow leg to his proud and happy father, Aladji. Fooday couldn’t wait to return home to tell his mother, Yakha, that he was completely healed and ready to go back to school.

Now, only one step remained until everyone could breathe a complete sigh of relief. After doing their straightening job, the eight-plates would need to be removed. Otherwise, the legs would bow out the other way! So, over the next eighteen months, while back at home, Fooday’s legs gradually straightened. His eventual return to school was a cause for amazement as his schoolmates could already see a dramatic change in his legs.

At the eighteen-month point, Aladji and Fooday eagerly travelled to the Africa Mercy hospital, now docked in Conakry, Guinea, for his final surgery.

Fooday’s reunion with nurse Melinda was filled with excitement, hugs and giggles. “Melinda took such good care of me when I had my first surgery, and I always hoped I would see her again. Now, here she is giving me the best hug of my life!” he declared.

As it turned out, Fooday’s eight-plate removal was not the only step in store for the family. To Aladji’s surprise, Mercy Ships had a greatly appreciated treatment in store for him too. For years Aladji had focused entirely on Fooday’s healing, while ignoring the pain of his own four decayed teeth and infected gums. At the same time that Fooday was in the Africa Mercy hospital, Aladji had an appointment at the Mercy Ships Dental Clinic. Aladji, with the tormenting dental pain completely gone, shared a warm smile with Fooday back at the ship. Aladji whispered in his son’s ear, “Fooday, thanks to Mercy Ships, it is happy teeth for me and back to school for you!! God is good!”

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