“Giving the disabled a new lease of life” from the Telegraph
Our CUREkids Coordinators are CURE’s eyes and ears on the ground in our hospitals. They not only file photos and updates on each CUREkid but also act as Correspondents, giving us a glimpse of life at the CURE hospital and in the country and culture in which the hospital serves. The following is part of the Correspondent series, filed by Cameron Mehl in Kenya.
When I was growing up I remember sitting in front of the television for as long as my parents would allow. Like every other kid since the invention of television, I’d sit just about as close as possible without my nose touching the screen, for what now seems like no good reason at all. Was I trying to imagine myself actually inside whatever show or movie was playing? Maybe the colors fascinated me so much that I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss one. Either way, I wanted my entire field of vision to be filled with the fast moving, action-packed thrill that every episode of Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was sure to provide. I wanted every talking animal in every Disney movie as my very own pet, and it was as if the closer I got to the TV, the more likely that was to happen. The thing is, movies are fun. They’re creative. They allow us to escape from reality to enjoy sights and sounds we would otherwise miss. Sometimes they help us dream, imagine, or put ourselves in the shoes of others. They teach us lessons, give us something to relate to, and, with the better films, give us hope. Read the rest of this entry »
Hello from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! I am finishing my first week here in a new country. The week has been filled with fun new experiences and also several not so great challenges. First, the good stuff. I have enjoyed my time at the hospital and all the hospital staff. CURE Ethiopia is an active and vibrant ministry. My “boss surgeons” were once my residents! Teddy and Mesfin are all I could dream for in young orthopedic surgeons for Ethiopia. After church this Sunday, I walked to a place I knew named Kaldi’s and enjoyed a real Ethiopian macchiato. What a treat! Clinics were busy; surgeries were scheduled. I enjoyed a good week at work and worship. Read the rest of this entry »
Hello from Kenya! The week is done; what a week it has been. I feel that I have been signed up for one of those tourist trips of “seven locations in just seven days.” See it all. Now it is time for a quick breather and packing for the next adventure—CURE Ethiopia.
Monday, after filling the mobile clinic van with people and supplies, we said a prayer for safety and started our journey. Rain and intermittent fog accompanied us all week long. Leaving Kijabe, we wound down the hill using the rocky, muddy “airport road.” Previous heavy rains created deep gulleys and exposed large rocks, allowing only a slow serpentine descent. Arriving at the bottom of the escarpment, we gratefully joined the tarmac road leaving Mahii Mahui. We were off!
The “Narok Road” had been repaired so was relatively smooth as we crossed the Rift Valley going toward Narok Town and Maasai land. The valley floor was green with grasses and spiky brush. Herds of goats and cattle were lead by their young shepherds, now easily finding enough to eat. Since I was not driving, I could enjoy the scenery.
We arrived in the town of Narok in less than two hours, much better than the old days. Since my last visit, Narok has grown in size. The main road through town is still crowded with people, trucks, cars, hand carts full of wares, and animals. We enjoyed a quick break at the Spear Hotel and resumed our journey. Rolling hills and wide expanses announced further entrance into the land of the Maasai. The road had its moments, with numerous potholes and speed bumps, but was still amazingly good. The team warned me that this enjoyable travel would not continue.
Bomet Town marked our turn toward the tea country of Kericho. The kilometers passed as the scenery shifted from grasses and wheat to tall sugar cane forests and seas of green Kenyan tea bushes. Driving became more of a challenge as traffic, potholes, and speed bumps increased. Unexpectedly, a new wrinkle entered–the brakes. Although the vehicle had only 10,000 km on the odometer, the brake pads were squealing and losing force. We needed to stop. Thankfully, we were near Kericho, a bigger town. The car was able to be fixed with only a couple hours delay.
The CURE team arrived in Kisumu Town in the early evening. The temperatures were warm and wet. We missed our opportunity for eating fish on the shores of Lake Victoria but arrived safely.
Clinic was held on Tuesday. For me clinic was a time to greet old friends and hear how I needed to return to Kenya. Finishing clinic, we joined the Kisumu Rehab team and headed to the shores of Lake Victoria. The water of the bay was beautiful. The fresh tilapia fish was like eating good memories with good friends. Sadly, we said kwa herini (good-bye) and started the long journey to Kitale.
The roads to Kitale had never been great, but this trip was a challenge. The roads were being totally rebuilt, which meant for the travelers muddy bypasses. Add on rain and too-soon darkness, and you get the feel of travel. We all gave a heartfelt prayer of thanks as we arrived in Kitale Town and traversed the last series of speed bumps. The hotel looked warm and inviting after such a journey.
Kitale clinic is always filled with children suffering some of the worst deformities CURE Kijabe sees. The children come from remote areas where there is little care. We scheduled children with advanced clubfoot disorders, spinal tuberculosis deformities, burn contractures, and many others. You may misunderstand this clinic. Kitale is not filled with sorrow and frowns; Kitale is a place where we see amazing smiles of hope and people singing in joy. The CURE team leaves Kitale always a bit tired but rarely ever discouraged.
Eldoret Town was a mere hour or so away. The rain and road issues followed along, but we arrived safely. We had another restful night and faced the final clinic. This clinic was started by a very special woman named Perciah Hutcherson. Perciah left the US when she was a widow 70 years old to come and serve. Over the years she shared a vision of a rehabilitation center and raised monies to build the current center where CURE runs our clinic. After many years of service, Perciah returned to the US, turning the management of the center over to others. I learned Perciah just celebrated her 92nd birthday! Eldoret clinic is running well, but I still miss the special advice, hugs, and blessings of this special woman.
After clinic we turned for home. Some of the roads were repaired and good; other road sections were awaiting their turn. Making the final climb up the escarpment before our turn, the fog blanketed the view and hid the traffic. We searched the hills to our right as we slowly made our way through the dark cloud. Occasionally, cars would zoom by, apparently not affected by the loss of visibility–or with a death wish. Finally, we arrived at the turn and slowly wound our way down the hill and home to Kijabe. The CURE team traveled about 1000km, examined more than 300 children, worked with local teams of pastors and rehab workers, and arrived safely home once again. The week was not over for the Meads, but that is a story for next week. For now, we celebrate all those children and families who traveled to the mobile medical-spiritual clinics. We celebrate hope for many who had none. We celebrate God’s provision as we travel through life in His grip.
Photo credits: Tim Mead
Good morning from Kenya! As the US moves into the summer, here in Kenya the weather is slowly shifting into the colder “winter” season. The days have still been temperate, reaching into the 70’s, but the nights cool down. July will be Kenya’s coldest month generally. A light coat for nights and early mornings, comfortable shirt sleeve temperatures during the day, green grass and trees and great coffee—my kind of weather and location.
We are completing a great week here in Kijabe, all the result of a strange “coincidence.” Read the rest of this entry »
Good morning from Kenya!! Once again I am sipping my special cup of coffee having enjoyed a walk around the Kijabe station area. Kenyan coffee is enjoyable both for its bold flavor and, of course, for the memories the coffee stirs up for me. Our time back in Kijabe has been a time to renew friendships, explore new developments, and celebrate the ongoing work of CURE Kijabe.
CURE Kijabe continues to have a busy mission here on the Rift and throughout Kenya. Orthopedic residents from Moi University in Eldoret regularly rotate through Kijabe to widen their education. CURE residents travel to Tenwek Hospital out in the Mara for training there. The Kenyan government has recognized the quality of the orthopedic education and awarded the COSECSA program specialty certification. What an amazing change from back when the Meads arrived!
In 1998 there were no orthopedic training programs in Kenya. The few Kenyan orthopedists were general surgeons who traveled overseas for a varying amount of orthopedic training; most received well less than a year. CURE International trained young doctors for three years in Kijabe in orthopedic care and then, in order to gain them acceptable certification, sponsored further training in Kampala, Uganda. These now trained and certified orthopedic surgeons later returned to Kenya or another CURE hospital. This circuitous training path worked but was much less than ideal.
A slow process of exploration options progressed over the years. There were many false starts and closed doors. CURE worked with COSECSA (College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa), a multinational training organization certified by the University of Edinburgh, and also worked with committees at Moi University, struggling through the university system.
Finally, I still feel through divine intervention, Kijabe was accepted by COSECSA and therefore the Kenyan medical board; our residency was started. Shortly afterward Moi also started an orthopedic residency program. Kenya suddenly went from zero to two training programs!! What a blessing for the Kenyan people!!
Our Kenyan staff, in addition to their Ugandan certification, fulfilled all the requirements and testing to become COSECSA-certified as well. Dr. Theuri, our first CURE Kijabe trainee and now talented orthopedic surgeon, in fact was the gold medal winner the year he sat for the COSECSA exam! New residents joined the program as CURE International sought out funding for this training effort.
As I spent time this week in the clinics, wards, and operating rooms, I was thinking of the word “sustainability.” Sustainability is a buzz word in missions. Often this means that a project can generate funds within its situation and country to keep going. In the developing world this can be very difficult but not impossible. CURE International takes care of some of the poorest kids in the world. The families will never afford the highly technical medical care necessary to restore their children’s lives. So CURE must look for partners both within each country and also without. CURE must get creative in fundraising to sustain this much needed ministry. You can help!
The other aspect of sustainability is the talented medical, spiritual, and support staff necessary to carry on this type of work. Relying on missionaries alone is short-sighted. Sooner or later the missionary burns out, retires, or dies. If there is no training of a successor with equal capabilities the work of the mission droops and risks dying. If you do train one person and they stop the training there, you have just delayed the inevitable. If you are a doctor but train only nurses or aids then the care is not going to be the same.
The orthopedic residency is so important for sustainability. CURE not only is a member in training and improving orthopedic care in Kenya (a lofty goal), but also training young orthopedists capable of carrying on the work with the disabled at CURE Kijabe. You can partner in education here, too.
CURE International is a tightly intertwined medical-spiritual ministry. CURE seeks to provide holistic care to heal the sick. CURE also seeks to expand the vision by training others to reach out in love and skillful care to those in need. Each CURE facility is just a small light in a large area of need. Looking at the immense problem, one could find it easy to be overwhelmed and quit (or never even start). But as a favorite African saying relates, “How do you eat an elephant? You eat him one spoon at a time!”
CURE International started with a vision lead by Scott and Sally Harrison. These two bold founders stepped out in faith and founded CURE International. CURE Kijabe, a 30 bed hospital, was the site of the first CURE facility in 1998. The growth of hospitals and amazing number of children reached with emotional, spiritual, and physical healing is a story of God’s power and love. Each day, CURE is faced with that elephant-sized need of the physically disabled in the developing world. Each day CURE again picks up that spoon and makes the need just a bit smaller. The challenge is God-sized, but then again we face this challenge with the certainty that we face the challenge in His grip
“RTI Biologics Gives 35-Allograft Donation to CURE-International” from Becker’s ASC Review
“CURE to observe world clubfoot day” from Nagaland Post
“BEC Recordings and Air1 Celebrate Club Awesome Live Tour” from BreatheCast
Good morning from the Great Rift Valley! Boy, does that sound great to me!!!!! I am here in Kijabe, Kenya, sipping a smooth, mellow cup of dark AA Kenyan coffee. Although I cannot see the valley from where I am staying, I have enjoyed many short walks to take in the views. The valley floor is covered with green vegetation. Trees and shrubs planted just a few years ago break the winds forces and give shade from the sun. Kijabe, Kenya — a great place to be. Read the rest of this entry »
ALACHUA, Fla.–RTI Biologics Inc. (RTI), a leading provider of orthopedic and other biologic implants, recently donated 35 bone allograft implants to Lemoyne, Pa.-based CURE International. The demineralized bone matrix (DBM) powder, illium strip tricortical and hemi femoral shaft will be used at AIC-CURE International Children’s Hospital of Kenya in Kijabe, Kenya, to care for more than 30 children with severe spinal disorders.
According to Timothy Mead, M.D., global consultant for CURE International, the allografts will be used to treat physically disabled, economically-disadvantaged patients at CURE’s 30-bed orthopedic/pediatric teaching hospital. The hospital provides care for children suffering from conditions such as clubfoot, cleft lip and cleft palate, curvature of the spine and disabilities stemming from polio, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other congenital abnormalities. The donated implants will be used as part of the treatment for patients suffering from tuberculosis, which often affects their spine and other joints.
“Typically, children with severe spinal disorders will arrive at our mobile clinic in an advanced state of the disease in which an entire vertebra or more may have been eaten away and the spine is collapsing into severe kyphosis,” said Mead. “The child may be unable to walk independently, they may have difficulty controlling their bladder and bowels and all will have constant back pain. The worst affected children are unable to move or feel their lower limbs, which puts them at risk of developing pressure sores, infection and death.”
CURE International surgeons working in Kenya have limited access to metal or synthetic implants and, with small children in particular, there may be little autograft available for the surgery. Allograft implants, such as those donated by RTI, can be used to restore spinal alignment and fill the defect after surgery.
“Recovery following the surgery is a slow process, but often, within a few days, we see improvement,” said Mead. “Patients find that their back pain disappears and smiles return to their faces.”
According to Mead, RTI’s donated implants will help more than 30 children in Kenya—the total amount of children who undergo spinal reconstruction surgery in one year at the hospital.
“As a global biologics company, RTI is honored to support the work of surgeons like Dr. Mead through this donation to CURE International,” said Brian K. Hutchison, RTI president and CEO. “We are grateful to be a part of the process — from the generous gift of tissue donation to the hard work of the surgeon at implantation — of providing these safe, biologic implants that will help restore life for these children in Kenya.”
Allografts are used as an alternative to synthetic and metal implants. However, unlike synthetic or metal implants, allografts are a natural and biocompatible scaffold, allowing the recipient’s body to remodel it into his or her own tissue over time. Using allograft tissue rather than an autograft eliminates a second surgical site, allowing the recipient to avoid additional pain, risk and a possibly longer hospital stay. In addition, in some cases, it is not possible to obtain an autograft, so allografts are a natural solution.
RTI uses stringent donor screening, laboratory testing and proprietary, validated sterilization processes to ensure patients’ safety. These redundant safeguards provide the highest level of confidence that patients will receive safe, high quality tissue. RTI honors the gift of tissue donation by treating the tissue with respect, by finding new ways to use the tissue to help patients and by helping as many patients as possible from each donation.
About CURE International
CURE International is the largest provider of reconstructive surgery to disabled children in the developing world and operates hospitals and programs in 29 nations. Since opening the doors of its first surgical teaching hospital in Kijabe, Kenya in 1998, CURE’s focus on bringing healing to developing nations has resulted in more than 2 million patient visits and over 147,000 surgeries to correct physically disabling conditions. CURE has also trained more than 6,600 medical professionals, raising the standard of care in the countries where it operates.
The AIC-CURE International Children’s Hospital in Kijabe serves approximately 8,000 children and performs approximately 2,500 surgeries each year. The hospital also operates mobile clinics that travel to remote regions to provide follow-up care and identify children who can be treated at the hospital. To learn more, visit www.cure.org.
About RTI Biologics Inc.
RTI Biologics Inc. is a leading provider of sterile biologic implants for surgeries around the world with a commitment to advancing science, safety and innovation. RTI prepares human donated tissue and animal tissue for transplantation through extensive testing and screening, precision shaping and using proprietary, validated processes. These allograft and xenograft implants are used in orthopedic, dental and other specialty surgeries.
RTI’s innovations continuously raise the bar of science and safety for biologics – from being the first company to offer precision-tooled bone implants and assembled technology to maximize each gift of donation, to inventing validated sterilization processes that include viral inactivation steps. These processes — BioCleanse®, Tutoplast® and Cancelle® SP DBM — have a combined record of more than five million implants sterilized with zero incidence of implant-associated infection. These processes have been validated by tissue type to inactivate or remove viruses, bacteria, fungi and spores from the tissue while maintaining biocompatibility and functionality.
RTI’s worldwide corporate headquarters are located in Alachua, Fla., with international locations in Germany and France. The company is accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks in the United States and is a member of AdvaMed.
Updated to correct photo credit, June 6, 2013.
I was done with my work for the day. As was my habit before leaving the hospital, I tidied my desk and office, walked through the patient ward and spoke the nurse in charge, said “good night” to the receptionist, and then spoke with the security guard on my way out of the building. This time the guard asked me a question I did not expect.
“What should I do with the cow?” he asked me.
“What should you do with the cow,” I repeated with a confused look.
“Yes – what should I do with the cow that is tied up out back?”
“What should you do with the cow that is tied up out back?”
“Yes – the cow for the celebration that is tied up out back.”
“… the cow for the celebration that is tied up out back …?” Read the rest of this entry »