Last week I was introduced to a shy and quiet 12 year old named Patricia. Patricia was an orthopedic patient of Dr. Lastroni, our consultant orthopedic surgeon and medical director. Other than a very slight limp, she appeared to look like the average child one sees when travelling through the streets of Lusaka. Who knew that this slightly built young girl had gone through so much over the past six months…
On July 1st of last year, Patricia was walking home from school with her three best friends when a sudden whirlwind came barreling toward her. To avoid the wind and the debris, Patricia and her friends fell to their knees and crouched down – waiting for the wind to pass. After a few seconds, the whirlwind disappeared and the four girls continued walking home. Everything seemed normal for Patricia until two days later, when her leg began to swell up. In severe pain and unable walk on her left leg, her grandmother Susan rushed her to CURE Zambia to see if there was anything the doctors could do.
After Patricia was admitted to CURE Zambia and during the four days she stayed at the hospital, her left leg developed boils that beginning to ooze pus. “From what we could tell, Patricia had developed septic arthritis and the infection was quickly spreading throughout the soft tissue on her leg,” Dr. Lastroni explained. Unfortunately for poor Patricia, the operating theatre at CURE Zambia was closed for renovation at that time. Nursing staff had to transport Patricia to the University Teaching Hospital of Lusaka, as it was the only hospital that could accommodate her at that time.
Once Patricia and her grandmother arrived at UTH, she was sent to theatre where her leg was treated and cleaned. The medical staff at UTH also began to cut the infected skin in an effort to stop the spread of the infection. “Patricia was very scared,” said Susan. “The doctors were not telling her why they were cutting her skin.” Shortly after the operation at UTH, Patricia was sent home to convalesce for two weeks. Her leg and her health only seemed to be getting worse.
Patricia headed back to CURE Zambia in August 2010 to see what more could be done to save her left leg. Dr. Lastroni and the orthopedic team at CURE Zambia worked tirelessly to save Patricia’s leg through continuously flushing out the infection and creating a series of skin grafts to cover large wounds covering left knee and thigh. During this, many of Patricia’s friends and family were convinced that she would lose her leg, or worse…
Today, everyone who meets little Patricia can safely say that she is a walking miracle. In fact when Patricia travels around her neighbourhood in Lusaka many are shocked to see her. “Everyone thought my little girl would die. Sometimes people even think she’s a ghost,” laughed Susan.
From this harrowing experience, Patricia hopes to be a nurse one day. “I must say that I LOVE this hospital, “ exclaimed Susan, “the nurses and doctors are so good. I tell everyone I know about CURE.” Patricia added quietly, “They’ve done a lot for me. I grateful to be alive.”
We at CURE Zambia are also grateful that little Patricia is alive!
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