Each year at O4A we want to take on a surgery for a child that has an exceptional need and requires a series of major interventions.
This year we are going to find a way to alleviate the suffering of a 10 year old girl named, Janet. For anyone who has followed us over the last couple of years you will notice that Janet has the same condition as ‘Willy’ who we worked with in 2013.
You can see from the photos that Janet’s intestine protrudes out of a colostomy hole in her abdomen. This is the result of being born with a blocked anus which then, due to increased pressure in that area, created a fistula (an opening in the wall that separates the anus from the vagina).
When she was 5 days old the doctors made an opening in her abdomen and opened a hole in her intestine so that she would have a way of passing feces. This was supposed to be followed up with another operation to correct the defect of the blocked anus, repair the fistula, and reattach the intestinal tract so that she would be able to excrete feces normally.
The follow up surgeries have not happened and to this day she remains in a state of misery. It has been 10 years. Janet’s entire life has been one of suffering in ways that most of us cannot imagine. To say that it is a source of shame and that she is ostracized would be to put it lightly.
Sometimes I imagine that these kids live here and try to comprehend what kind of outpouring there would be to help a child like this if she were our neighbor. I remember being with Janet and her mom for the initial series of consultations and remember the smell, the constant soiling of herself, the way other kids would make fun of her, the names that she is called, and can see the lifelessness in her eyes.
I remember too the look on one of the doctors’ faces and the way he recoiled when clearly he hadn’t seen this condition before. It is a physical misery but it is a psychological and social kind of death to have lived the way Janet has. The heart of our work at O4A is to find a way to alleviate the suffering of kids like Janet.
You can see that her dad has tried to raise money to fund the surgery for his daughter and has written a letter to the government asking for assistance on humanitarian grounds. The money they have raised they’ve used for transportation back and forth for a number of consultations and tests but it has not been anywhere near enough to cover the cost of the surgeries that are required.
We have taken Janet to 3 different surgeons to get their opinions and have settled on a course of action with a surgeon in Kampala at a private hospital. A thorough battery of tests has been done to determine the strategy for fixing Janet’s condition. In the first surgery they will create an opening in the anus where it is blocked, repair the fistula, and connect the upper and lower intestinal tract.
The colostomy will be left open. After that we will allow several months for healing of all the tissues. Then Janet will undergo exercises to strengthen her sphincter muscles which have never been used. The second surgery will close the colostomy and then we’ll see if she can pass feces normally through her anus. We feel we are in good hands with the surgeon we’ve settled on and have arrived at the estimated price for all the fees including the surgical fees, hospital fees, medical tests and supplies, transportation and meal costs. We are looking at needing to raise 7 million schillings which translates to $3200 Canadian dollars.
We don’t normally make requests for individual surgeries but cover them through the generosity of our donors. However, due to the heightened costs for Janet’s care we need to ask you for help to raise this money.
Everything is set to move forward.