Sumaya is an 8-year old Ethiopian girl from a small village near Jimma (about 210 miles west of Addis Ababa). Until a year ago, Sumaya was a happy and sociable little girl, enjoying school and popular among her friends. She has three brothers and lives in a small house with her devoted father (a poor share cropped) and mother. But a year ago, she started to develop a swelling around her nose. Her father took her to the local hospital in Jimma who referred her to a larger regional hospital and subsequently to the Black Lion Hospital in Addis.
The swelling grew at an alarming pace. Fortunately someone at Black Lion Hospital knew about Facing Africa's twice yearly surgical visits and put Sumaya's father in contact with Kidist, our Ethiopian Country Manager. In May, our team of 4 reconstructive surgeons, 4 anaesthetists and 9 highly skilled nurses arrived at "Facing Africa House" just outside Addis when they saw and inspected about 30 patients with severe facial deformities. Among them was Sumaya.
The first thing was to get a CT scan followed by a biopsy in order to establish the cause and possible treatment of her condition. The results showed that she had a mid-face ossifying fibroma (a rare form of benign bone forming tumour) that was still growing larger by the day. The tumour was causing her severe breathing problems and it was a matter of three to four weeks before she would die a painful death.
A meeting was held by the team to discuss whether or not to operate, bearing in mind that her condition was so advanced that she could die on the operating table or during the immediate recovery time. Her father was also consulted and advised of the options but ultimately it was a no-brainer and it was decided that an operation was the only choice.
Sumaya cheerily walked into the operating wing with her father. Her 7-hour operation was led by Hiroshi Nishikawa and assisted by Paul Wilson. The two surgeons slowly and cautiously removed the tumour, leaving a huge mid-face cavity. It was then decided to pack the cavity with gauze and superficially close up the two halves of her face. Sumaya was wheeled into the intensive care unit where she was kept overnight in a semi-coma. The following morning, Hiroshi and Paul opened up the wound and removed the gauze and any last traces of the tumour before closing the wound again.
The following day, Sumaya was deemed well enough to be moved from ICU to the ward with all our other patients. She sipped milk and nibbled a banana - all good signs of recovery. Her doting father was at her bedside constantly. When asked yesterday how he felt after her surgery, he said "after seeing the results of the operation I can now die peacefully.”
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Related Work: Destructive Diseases