Just to let you all know that the little girl Hoodo with the Extropium who was referred to Addis Ababa, has today returned to us after her successful operation at the Korean Hospital.
She is healed and beautiful and her parents inform me that she has no problem with passing urine. She has a little diarrhoea from the journey which we can take care of.
Thank you Dr. Frehun Ayele for operating on her and thank you to the ‘Korean Hospital Management’ for waving the cost of the operation for us.
I also wish to thank all who assisted with travel cost of the child and her parents to Ethiopia and for helping with the cost of their stay in Addis while their daughter was in hospital.
Blessings to all,
Here is today’s vocabulary-builder: Exstrophy. Bladder exstrophy is a congenital defect where an infant is born with a portion of his or her urinary bladder outside the body (in essence, part of the bladder protrudes from the navel). It is extremely rare, occurring only once in every 10,000 to 50,000 births, and is twice as likely to occur in males. In developed countries, surgical reconstruction typically takes place within the first six months, with subsequent treatments taking place as necessary.
So you can imagine Edna’s surprise when a young man named Hassan introduced himself and explained that he had a young daughter with an exposed bladder. That was how we were first introduced to Baby Hoodo (okay, she’s four years old, so she technically might not be a baby any longer, but she’s just so cute). Hoodo has untreated bladder exstrophy, and her family had no idea that her condition is treatable.
Well over half of Somaliland’s estimated population of 3.5 million people is nomadic. They raise livestock (goats, sheep, cows and, of course, camels) and travel from place to place in search of water and grazing land. Few are educated beyond primary school. They are fiercely self-sufficient and are reluctant to ask for help. Births take place at home (which is usually a tent), often without the assistance of a skilled attendant. Even among the urban population here, prenatal care is rare, so potential birth defects are not detected the way they are in the U.S. or Europe.
When abnormalities such as Hoodo’s occur, they tend to be looked upon as an act of God; it may not occur to the family that medical intervention is an option. We were very fortunate that Baby Hoodo’s father came to Edna for help.
Unfortunately, there is little we can do for her here. Hoodo was examined by our good friend Dr. Andy Norman from Tennessee, who was visiting with his wife, Judy. Dr. Andy was able to refer us to a doctor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who has experience in this kind of delicate surgery. He agreed to treat Baby Hoodo if we could get her to Addis.
In the U.S., we would say “Problem solved.” In this corner of the world, our problems were just beginning. First, Hoodo and her family need passports to travel to Ethiopia (happily, Ethiopia is one of the few countries that recognize passports issued by the Republic of Somaliland). Hoodo’s father works as a night watchman; the passport application fees alone are beyond his means. He and his wife and daughter have to find a way to get to Addis Ababa, over a day’s drive from Hargeisa. They have to find a place to stay and pay for meals while Hoodo undergoes treatment; it may be several weeks before she is cleared to return to Somaliland. All of this is in addition to the hospital cost itself, which is estimated to be $1500.
$1500 may not sound like much – most of us pay more than that for cable television in an average year; but for many families in Somaliland, it’s an astronomical amount.
In the true spirit of Ramadan, Edna is determined to get Baby Hoodo the help she needs. Edna is paying for the family’s passports, and is helping them with their travel expenses. Myungsung Korean Hospital in Addis Ababa will reduce their fee. Our friends at Humanity Direct in London are contributing to the cost. The family is scraping together what they can, and we’re hoping they can find a Somali family to stay with in Addis. One way or another, we’ll make sure this story has a happy ending.