Debby, a 3-year-old from Kenya, was born with a severe spinal deformity and neurologic defect. At about 9-months, Debby was found abandoned on the side of a road and placed in an orphanage in El Doret, Kenya.
Her caretakers were told that her very severe case of scoliosis and spinal cord defect would eventually cripple her if spine and neurosurgery was not performed.
That is when Healing the Children Arizona stepped in. Healing the Children Arizona was able to find American pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Leland Albright, on staff at AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya, and enlisted his help.
Dr. Albright performed a very risky and delicate surgery on Debby’s spinal cord in January in an Kenyan hospital. Debby is recovering nicely, but she now requires implantation of a spinal rod that will allow her back to grow straight.
Since her treatment will take many years, the logistics of Debby making multiple visits to the U.S. every year for many years is not a viable option. Therefore, while Debby is recovering nicely from her neurosurgery in Kenya, Healing the Children Arizona and Children with Hope (a Colorado organization that supports the orphanage) is investigating other possibilities for Debby to receive care in Africa.
We hope that Debby will receive her much needed treatment soon, and that she will be well on her way to a healthier and brighter future in 2012.
If you are interested in helping Debby or other children in hospitals around the world, please visit ww.htcaz.org or email
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Ana is a spunky, dark haired, brown eyed little girl from Honduras who at 2 years of age accidentally drank caustic pesticide from a container sitting on the family’s front patio. Her immediate screams let all those around her know that whatever she drank was causing immense pain. As it turned out, the poison had completely destroyed her esophagus, scarring it forever. Over the next 6 years, Ana had to be fed and hydrated by a gastric tube, unable to swallow even her own saliva.
In October 2010, Ana arrived in Arizona for an evaluation with a medical care team. She would need to undergo a very rare and complicated surgery provided by pediatric surgeon Dr. Tuan Pham, his partner Dr. Ravindra Vegunta, and the surgical team at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. Ana’s scarred, functionless esophagus would need to be removed and replaced with a portion of her colon.
In January of 2011, Ana underwent almost 10 hours of surgery to make a new esophagus using 60% of her colon. She amazed everyone, and after only two weeks in the hospital, Ana was able to drink and eat liquid foods for the first time in 6 years!
Over the next two months, Ana had to re-learn how to eat and swallow food with different textures. However, it didn’t take her long to catch on, and by March of 2011 she was eating hamburgers, french fries, and pizza.
Ana returned home in March of 2011 after making a quick trip to experience Disneyland. Her family was amazed when they finally saw her eating food. They asked host mom Kristin Mathews how long the new esophagus would last, and Kristin was thrilled to tell them “para siempre” (forever).
Hussein, from Iraq, returns to the United States for surgery and prosthetics
Hussein was hospitalized in Baghdad. Iraqi doctors tried to do whatever they could, taking skin grafts from his leg to cover facial and eye wounds, and when that did not work, a piece of Hussein's scalp was cut and repositioned to cover open wounds on his forehead. When his left hand became gangrenous, the only choice was to amputate it at the forearm. Although doctors told the family there was no hope, Hussein made a miraculous life-saving recovery that left him blind and disabled.
Through contacts with the American military and a Middle Eastern children's charity, Hussein was introduced to Healing the Children, Arizona Chapter. Over the next 17 months, Hussein underwent facial reconstruction, and three eye procedures, two surgeries to the left eye including corneal transplant, lensectomy and removal of foreign bodies, and an oculoplastic surgery to the right eye, to create a pouch that would contain his new prosthetic eye.
When Hussein arrived in November 2005, he said, "The only thing I have in my heart is to see." Thanks to help from Phoenix Children's Hospital and local medical providers, Drs. Brendan Cassidy, Jung Dao, Jeffrey Epstein, J. Shepard Bryan, Davinda Singh, Adrain Arya, Harold Magelnick, Lynne Noonan, Valley Anesthesia, and Mounib Shaaban, as well as eye and limb orthotists John Hadlock and Joseph Pongratz, Donor Network and countless others, Hussein's dream became a reality. For the first time since his injury, Hussein was able to see traffic light changes from red to green from a distance, and then gained a wider area of vision of about 10 feet peripherally. For the first time in his life, Hussein ate pizza, played video games, and rode a bike again.
Hussein recently returned to Phoenix, Arizona in October, 2010 for additional plastic surgery, eye evaluations, and prosthetic replacements. Hussein met up with his medical providers for ongoing care, and also made new friends at Shriner's Hospital in Los Angeles, California, Healing the Children's partner in our mutual effort to take Hussein through the next steps in his recovery process.