Our girl Leah is up and running! We are beyond thrilled to finally be able to see beautiful Leah being a healthy, happy and giggly 15 year old girl! After two and a half long years of misdiagnosing what ended up being osteomyelitis: a rare (in developed countries) but serious infection inside of the bone, as well as wrong treatment plans and a great deal of pain, Leah is healed. She is no longer limping from pain and she's running around again!
Our journey with Leah began a year into her illness in May 2017. She had been sick since May 2016. She could hardly walk, she was missing school and she was in incredible pain. She'd been repeatedly taken to village clinics and public hospitals all resulting in misdiagnoses and unsuccessful treatments. When Leah was finally diagnosed with osteomyelitis, it was impossible to get anything other than repeated heavy doses of antibiotics as form of treatment. Living in Malawi, one of our planet's poorest countries, (World Bank has them as the poorest), left Leah with little hope for healing, and quite likely even surviving.
In August 2018, at the very moment Julie was with Leah at a clinic appointment, a friend sent Julie a message suggesting we look into CURE Hospital in Southern Malawi. It was God's perfect timing. Julie chatted with the doctor at the clinic and together they felt it was Leah's best and only option for Leah complete healing. Leah's only obstacle was funding to get her there and back, as well as a few other sundry costs. CURE would perform her orthopaedic surgery for free because she is under the age of 18. So, we jumped at this opportunity! The hospital put Leah on an immediate surgery list. We had two days to get her there.
... and the rest is what they call history!
We'd like to thank CURE's phenomenally gifted team of caregivers. And especially Leah's orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Lubega, who was kind, gentle and very patient. He even made himself available to us once Leah was discharged from the hospital and back in her village.
Dr. Lubega performed two surgeries to ensure he had scraped out all the dead matter from within the femur. Little Leah is left with long thick scars on both the inside and the outside of her leg. In the end, her poor leg looks like a battle field (see one of the photos below). It has taken Leah another two and a half months, since surgery, to fully recover. She had developed infections along her incisions once she was back home, and required regular washings and changed dressings.
This is where our Malawian partner Daniel Nyirenda and his team have regularly stepped in to support Leah and her family. Over the last two months they would spend between 10 and 15 hours a week, including some weekends, getting Leah from the village, to the hospital for bandage changes, and back to the village. This routine has been happening off and on for the last year, and it hasn't been easy having daily routines and family time interrupted. Daniel and his team have gone above and beyond anything expected of them. This further solidifies the beautiful truth about Malawians that we've come to know, and about our partner in particular: they are helpful beyond expectation and to the point of sacrifice. #thewarmheartofafrica
This further solidifies the beautiful truth about Malawians that we've come to know, and about our partner in particular: they are helpful beyond expectation and to the point of sacrifice.
In all of this, we are rejoicing in God's goodness to dear Leah. Thank you to everyone who prayed for Leah over the last year and a half. Please keep our friend Richard in your prayers now. It seems God's answer to our prayers for Richard will be quite different from what we want, and from Leah's life story. But, His will is best.
Julie can't wait for her next visit where she will be able to run and skip along the dusty roads with Leah at her side.
Warning: one graphic picture
* note: the X-ray film picture shows a bend - that's not Leah's knee! It's her femur.
Apologies if you received multiple emails on November 21 while we were setting up our blog. We hope we have ironed out the possible kinks. Thank you for your grace and patience. Our goal is to be able to streamline things and make our work load lighter when trying to keep everyone up to date. So many platforms + a varying audience = a lot of work to ensure people are getting what they want. Often we have conversations with people who comment, "Oh, I didn't know that!", in response to something we've worked hard to communicate. Thank you for your patience and ongoing interest and support.