Hope for America

Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Wednesday 14th February 2018

We’d like to introduce you to America, one of the many brave young children we support in rural Ethiopia. She is HIV positive and suffers from a devastating disease, Noma.

Despite this, and thanks to our partners, she still has hope for the future.

Her story

America contracted this disease, thought to cause the death of 90% of its victims, when she was just 3 years old. Living in drought-stricken, rural Ethiopia, America’s immune system was simply too fragile to help her fight her illness alone. Sadly, her parents did not have access to antibiotics, easily accessible in the UK, to help tackle the infection. As the disease progressed, she rapidly lost almost the entire left side of her face – her nose, lips and cheeks were overcome with necrotic scabs.

Facing the prospect of the gangrenous infection taking their malnourished daughter’s life, her parents were forced to take her to a local hospital. All they could do for her there was remove the infected areas.

America was fighting for her life.

Though our partners rushed America to a better equipped hospital in Addis Ababa, and fought to save her, facial disfigurements continue to prevent her living a normal life. Once discharged from the hospital to build her strength at home, sadly, there was still a long road ahead to full recovery.

America contracted the disease a second time shortly after her condition stabilised.  Saved for a second time, America is again building her strength to have surgery to allow her to live a more normal life. Making eating, drinking and breathing easier for America is now the surgeons’ priority.


Hope for the future

Throughout the turmoil that America and her family have been through, our partners in Ethiopia have been able to offer them hope. America’s surgery is planned for May 2018 and we are excited to see her recover. Without your support, America’s story could have come to an end a long time ago.

Now, she can look forward to the year ahead and the prospect of a healthy life after surgery.

We would love to offer this hope to other Noma sufferers.


A few facts

In the UK and Europe, we bid farewell to this horrific disease over a century ago.

Noma affects young children, leaving families devastated as they suffer from the infection eating away facial features and taking young lives.

Ethiopiaid offers complex surgery and expert post-operative care to children with Noma. Our volunteer surgeons not only save lives but also allow families to look forward to their children’s Noma-free futures.

For more information about the disease and our work please take a look at our recent blog post, Understanding Noma or to donate please click here.

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