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Scoliosis Surgery Success Times 2: Treasure and Michaela

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In 2019, LWB learned of a lovely eleven-year-old Ugandan girl named Treasure who had a severe case of scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) that was making her life very difficult. Treasure’s scoliosis was so severe that her ribcage was pushed against her heart and lungs which caused breathing and circulation issues.

Young girl with scoliosis with her sister and mom standing outside

Doctors in Uganda recommended immediate surgery to treat Treasure, but her mother felt completely helpless to make this happen. As a recently unemployed single mother of four, Treasure’s mother Stella simply didn’t have the money to help Treasure receive the operation that she so desperately needed. Stella was referred to LWB’s Uganda Medical program to see if we could help with treatment for her daughter’s scoliosis.

Our hope was to find a charity that does spinal repairs, either by bringing patients to the US or through a medical mission outreach to Uganda. However, time 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 with her scoliosis: Dr. Boachie-Adjei at the FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital in Ghana. When we reached out to FOCOS, 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.

Just In Time: Treasure’s Scoliosis Treatment

After many tests and evaluations, the care team in Ghana told us that Treasure was receiving scoliosis treatment just in the nick of time, as her lungs were so compromised that she wouldn’t have survived much longer. Doctors performed immediate surgery to relieve some of the pressure, and Treasure had to be placed on a ventilator to help her breathe. She underwent months of traction and then a very complex surgery, followed by a long post-op recovery period.

Girl in traction during scoliosis treatment in Ghana

All in all, this brave girl was in Ghana for six months and endured so much!

Young female patient standing with her doctor

Upon her return to Uganda following scoliosis treatment, LWB supported Treasure’s education at one of the top- ranked schools for girls in Kampala. We are pleased to report that Treasure is doing quite well, and we love how happy and healthy she looks in this recent photo from school.

Teenage girl in her Ugandan school uniform

Treasure And Michaela’s Connection

Treasure’s story leads us to a current classmate of hers named Michaela. Treasure noticed the visible curvature of 17-year-old Michaela’s spine in class and spoke to her classmate about her own experience of having scoliosis surgery four years earlier. Treasure, who clearly has a kind and giving heart, learned that Michaela’s parents were unable to afford the surgical intervention that their daughter needed and decided to take matters into her own hands.

Treasure wrote a very sweet letter to LWB sharing Michaela’s story. We knew our supporters would take Michaela into their hearts! Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we had a plan in place to send Michaela to FOCOS, the very same hospital in Ghana that had helped Treasure with her scoliosis.

Girl waiting for scoliosis surgery at hospital in Ghana

Michaela’s Scoliosis Treatment

As you can see from a hospital x-ray, the curvature of Michaela’s spine was quite pronounced.

X-ray showing scoliosis

It was vital that Michaela have treatment as soon as possible to prevent her spine from collapsing further and encroaching on her lungs and other internal organs. Michaela was admitted to the hospital and had surgery just a few weeks ago in January. Thankfully, Michaela’s scoliosis was not quite as severe as Treasure’s, but her recovery has still been understandably painful. Doctors anticipate that she will need six weeks of post-op care before she can return to Uganda.

Last week, we were thrilled to receive photos of Michaela standing upright, and we were just as happy to see a beautiful smile on her face!

Treasure’s and Michaela’s intertwined stories are just another example of the “ripple effect” that we see when one person decides to pay it forward and help another. We are truly blessed to have supporters who were willing to make that initial “splash” in the middle – bringing healing to Treasure, then Michaela.

Girl with scoliosis stands outside the hospital gate

Who knows how many more lives those two will impact in future years as those ripples continue to expand!

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