Doctors for Rebecca

In the October 2005 update we covered Rebecca receiving a wheelchair from LDS Charities so she could attend school. We also indicated that Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC) in Dallas had offered to do the corrective procedures on Rebecca's feet. With the last of the sand flowing through our mission hourglass, we needed to act quickly and have a few small miracles get a plan for Rebecca in place. If you are interested in small miracles, read on.

During the week of October 17th we talked with a Church member who works in the US Embassy in Accra. He explained that getting a US visa for Rebecca would be difficult; getting a visa for one of her parents to accompany her would be almost impossible. (Because so many people who enter the US try to stay illegally, the law requires 'compelling' evidence that the person will return before a visa is granted.) A visa for Rebecca would be facilitated if medical options were not available in Ghana. While working all issues at the same time, TSRHC asked us for better medical information and x-rays, so we needed to arrange to take Rebecca to a clinic. We decided to 'drop-in' at Sotad school and talk with Rebecca's family. We arranged to go with the Huffs and Sister Anipa on Monday, October 24th. Brother and Sister Anipa are warm, loving members of the Church in Dodowa who had provided two school uniforms for Rebecca and had worked with the Huffs in getting the wheelchair for Rebecca.
Cement Block Building Adobe Building
The younger classes (Grades 1-3)
meet in the cement block building.
Grades 4-5 meet in the older
adobe type building.

Rebecca at School
Rebecca at School
We were pleased to find Rebecca at school dressed in the
school uniform Sister Anipa had given her.

Teacher with Cane Elder Markham Drilling the Alphabet
Four obrunis showing up unannounced
was disruptive. Teachers tried in vain
to maintain order in the classroom.
The small, thin reed in this teacher's hand
is the 'cane' used to discipline students,
not as bad as we had imagined.
While we waited for one of the older
students to find Rebecca's parents,
we decided to 'help' the teachers.
Elder Markham is drilling this class
on the alphabet and spelling...
not his long suit, but he did OK.

Singing with Sisters Singing with Sisters
Sisters Huff and Markham soon
had all the students participating
in a sing-a-long.
They sang "The Wheels on the Tro-Tro"
and "The Wise Man Built His House
Upon the Rock."

Roseline, Rebecca's Mom
Roseline Addo Tetteh, Rebecca's Mom
From left: Sister Anipa, Sister Markham, Roseline, Sister Huff
Roseline left her sick bed (malaria) to meet with us. She is
very intelligent and capable. Her English is good.

Being careful not to create undue expectations, we talked to Roseline about needing medical information about Rebecca so doctors could evaluate if anything could be done to help her feet. We told her we needed to get x-rays of Rebecca's feet and legs. Roseline said, "I have pictures of Rebecca." Assuming she meant snapshots the Huffs had given her, we tried to explain more. She had understood perfectly and told us she already had pictures of the bones taken at Korle-Bu Hospital when Rebecca was a baby. We went to the family compound and Roseline went into a cement block hut with dirt floors and brought out a complete medical file. Rebecca had been treated for a dislocated hip when she was 3 months old at Korle-Bu. Somehow Roseline had the entire hospital file including x-rays of the feet and legs. This was more than a small miracle.

Roseline could not let us take the file without her husband's permission. He was working on a farm and could not be reached until that night. We agreed to return the next day to borrow the file for a few days. We did that and were able to take digital pictures of the x-rays and email them to Dallas. Although newer x-rays would be needed for full evaluation, the doctors in Dallas were able to assess that the total treatment period for Rebecca would be about six months and require multiple castings. At this point our concern was the impact of taking Rebecca from her family to the US for several months, then bringing her back to Ghana. It seemed like it would be nothing less than an alien abduction.

Elder/Doctor Emmanuel Kissi
Elder (Doctor) Emmanuel Kissi

During the previous week we had contacted Elder Kissi who is a practicing physician and surgeon in Accra. He is also one of the LDS Church pioneers in West Africa. After joining the Church in the UK while he was a medical student doing surgery training, he returned to Ghana to practice among his people. He has been a great Church leader here and is currently an Area Authority Seventy.

We needed to know what options might be available in Ghana to treat Rebecca's club feet. Dr. Kissi volunteered to seek out this information for us. Two days after we got the early x-rays from Roseline, Dr. Kissi called to give us contact information for Dr. Ofori Addo. Dr. Addo is a practicing orthopedic surgeon who lectures at the University of Ghana Medical School and is the local contact for the F.O.C.O.S. Clinic in Accra. From the internet we learned that F.O.C.O.S. was a US based charitable organization that brings a medical team to Ghana a few times a year to do spine, joint and foot surgery. The organization is led by Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjie, a Ghanaian immigrant who worked his way through college and medical school in the US and has a succesful orthopedic practice in New York City. Dr. Addo screens cases for the F.O.C.O.S. team. It felt like another miracle in the making. Click here to visit the F.O.C.O.S. website .

F.O.C.O.S. Clinic F.O.C.O.S. Clinic We went to the F.O.C.O.S. Clinic on Friday, October 28th. We were impressed with how it looked outside. What we found inside was even better.

Rebecca Owusu-Darko
Rebecca Owusu-Darko, Administrative Manager of the F.O.C.O.S. Clinic

Rebecca was very willing to answer our questions. From her we learned that Dr. Addo only sees F.O.C.O.S. patients on Wednesdays. We also learned that a US team was scheduled to arrive in Ghana on November 12th, just two days before we would leave. Their surgery schedule was full for this visit and the best foot surgeon would not be coming until next March, but we would be able to talk with someone on this team about post-surgical care in Ghana. (Read: one more miracle.) Rebecca made an appointment for Dr. Addo to see little Rebecca the next Wednesday and volunteered to help arrange for us to talk with Pam Lupo, an Orthotist, who would be with the F.O.C.O.S. team.

The Huffs and Anipas were able to communicate with Roseline that we would take her and Rebecca to visit a doctor on Wednesday morning.

Roseline in a Green Dress Rebecca Dressed Up
There was a small crowd when we arrived.
Clearly this was an event. Roseline, who
was feeling better, had on a beautiful
green dress. Frank, her baby, also came.
Rebecca was dressed up for the doctor.
She was excited and immediately reached
for Elder Markham's arms where she
would remain for much of the day.
When we arrived at the F.O.C.O.S. Clinic, it was full of other patients. Rebecca Owusu-Darko greeted us and said arrangements had been made for our visit to be prompt. All the staff were very kind and helpful. Little Rebecca's eyes sparkled and everyone wanted to help.

Within 30 minutes, the registration and vital signs check had been completed and we were in one of the examination rooms seeing Dr. Addo. By then Elder and Sister Thompson, who volunteered to take the lead with Rebecca when we left, had joined us to met Rebecca and Roseline and see the clinic. Roseline's native language is Dangbe, a dialect of Ga. While Ga is fairly common in the Accra region, it was a pleasant surprise that Dr. Addo spoke Dangbe. He talked directly with Roseline and Rebecca. (Read: one more miracle.)

The Receptionist, Giftie Otelia, a Nurse
The Friendly Receptionist, Giftie Otelia, a Very Kind Nurse

Frank with Elder Thompson Rebecca and Frank on Elder Markham's Lap
Elder Thompson practiced his
Grandpa Podger skills with Frank.
Elder Markham's lap is plenty big
for Rebecca and Frank.
After a thorough examination of Rebecca and her infant x-rays, Dr. Addo told us that it was a very severe case. Rebecca did not have full range movement in her hips, indicating possible joint or even spine problems. Her feet are very turned and to straighten them will require breaking and resetting bones. It would have been much better to have done this years ago when the bones were softer. Dr. Addo needed new x-rays of the spine, hip joints and feet, plus blood work to fully evaluate this case. He said the x-ray technician was not available that day, but we could make an appointment.

We went to Rebecca Owusu-Darko's desk to make an x-ray appointment and pay for the visit. Just then a young man walked in---it was the x-ray techician just stopping by. He agreed to take a few minutes to do the x-rays right then. (Read: another little miracle.) We then went to a near-by hospital and got the blood work done. The techicians there also spoke Dangbe and were very kind to Rebecca, who was a little afraid. (Read: more little miracles.)

We took Roseline, Rebecca and Frank back to Sotad village and returned to the office just in time for an important audit meeting, well, maybe not really important compared to our other activities that day.

Deborah Cash-Abbey and Dr. Addo
Deborah Cash-Abbey, F.O.C.O.S. Clinic Head Nurse and Dr. Ofori Addo

One week later, Elder and Sister Markham were back in Dr. Addo's office to hear the final assessment. The new x-rays revealed both hip joints are dislocated, but there are no spine problems. The hips can be corrected so her legs will be able to support her body weight. Her blood work was good. The foot bones are severely deformed, as expected. Corrective surgery will likely mean that her feet won't grow as much as they normally would. But, they will be flat, and with small flat feet it is likely little Rebecca will be able to walk. Maybe she will require a cane. Rebecca has been added to the F.O.C.O.S. surgery case plan! Her file has been forwarded to Dr. Michael J. Mendelow, the surgeon who will likely handle her case.

On Sunday afternoon, November 13th, we met with Pam Lupo who had arrived in Ghana late Saturday night on her sixth F.O.C.O.S. team visit. Rebecca Owusu-Darko arranged the meeting and Pam took time from her busy schedule to talk with us about post-surgical care and therapy. She explained how cases were followed by the F.O.C.O.S. team to ensure the best possible results. Dr. Addo oversees the post-surgical care in Ghana. Pam told us about a pediatric orthopedic care and therapy clinic she had learned about during her last visit to Ghana. It is in Nsawam, about 30 miles north of Accra. It is operated by Sister Elizabeth, a nun originally from Louisiana. This is a residential facility with excellent practices. This may be a very good fit for Rebecca. Finally, Pam recommended that we contact F.O.C.O.S. Headquarters in New York. She said they have a very capable staff and will be able to set up designation of donations for Rebecca's hospital and post-surgical care. The surgery itself is free to the patient.

We believe all our concerns had been addressed and our prayers answered. This is the best approach for Rebecca. The generous offer from TSRHC initiated all the activity that resulted in finding a good approach in Ghana. No alien abduction of Rebecca is necessary. Many people have willingly contributed to this effort. We view them as angels helping to create miracles.

After talking with Pam, we called the Huffs who now serve in Kpong to review what we had learned. We all felt very good about using F.O.C.O.S. The Huffs wanted to meet us in Sotad to discuss the plan with Rebecca's parents and to seek their agreement. We were able to do that Sunday afternoon and all systems are go. Click this link to read about our last visit to Sotad Village .

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