Posts Tagged hydrocephalus

CURE Zambia’s Dr. Kachinga featured on CNN

We are only partly kidding when we say that Dr. Kachinga Sichizya, neurosurgeon at CURE Zambia, just might be the most interesting man in the world. The CNN features below explain why we’re so proud to call Dr. Kachinga one of our own.

You can view the features by visiting these links to Parts I, II, and III.


Wondering about hydrocephalus, the condition Dr. Kachinga talks about in these interviews? Did you know that CURE has a specialty program dedicated to hydrocephalus and has been part of groundbreaking research and treatment? Learn more by visiting cure.org/hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus hasn’t stopped Michelle Martin

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Volunteer and CURE supporter Michelle Martin is finishing up a 7-week trip to CURE Uganda. Michelle was diagnosed with hydrocephalus during infancy, so her story is particularly unique and inspiring at CURE Uganda, where we treat many babies with hydrocephalus.

This is Michelle’s second visit to CURE Uganda and we don’t think it will be her last. We are thankful for dedicated volunteers and supporters; they are a special part of CURE’s gospel-centered mission. I took some time to interview Michelle about her experience.

1. Can you describe the treatment you received for hydrocephalus?

I was 8 months old when the doctors discovered I had hydrocephalus. They inserted a shunt into my head and I was told that it would need to be replaced every two years. By the grace of God, I haven’t needed any additional surgeries; my shunt turned 27 years old this past May.

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An operating room worship service in Zambia

Earlier this year I traveled to CURE Zambia with a group of church leaders. I asked a good friend of mine, Tich Dzinotyiwei, to join us. Tich was one of my best students when I led the Theological College of Zimbabwe, and he went on to become the head of his denomination, working with Baptist congregations all over Zimbabwe. Since the trip, we have been blessed to have Tich join our team at CURE as the Director of Development and Sustainability for our African programs.

On this trip, we had the opportunity to be in the operating room and observe our neurosurgeon, Dr. Kachinga Sichizya, as he operated on a baby with hydrocephalus, a fatal condition where excess fluid accumulates in and around the brain. When Kachinga is in the operating room, he begins by praying for the patient and the procedure. He sings worship songs during the surgery, creating an atmosphere in the operating room that is unlike anything I have experienced outside of a CURE hospital.

Dr. Sichizya prays over a child before he begins her surgery.

Dr. Sichizya prays over a child before he begins her surgery.

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One student’s experience at CURE Zambia

Lauren Blessing is a junior at the University of Georgia and is studying to be a physician assistant. She is on the executive board of UGA’s CURE U chapter and is honored to be a part of CURE’s mission. She traveled to CURE Zambia for three weeks this summer and loved every moment of her time there. The following is an excerpt from a blog post she wrote while there. 

Despite all of the joy and beauty that God is creating out of pain here in Zambia, heartbreak is still present. Sixty to seventy percent of Zambia is unemployed, so poverty is huge. The Zambian people are incredibly kind and peaceful, but the highest crime here is theft due to the desperate need for basic necessities. One of the surgeons today was asking us if we would rather go insane or live in poverty. Most of us said we would rather live in poverty. He explained that he would rather be insane, because poverty drives people to do worse things than insane people do.

Across the street from the hospital, there is a compound. The compound is a large enclosure area that has huts and no electricity or running water. This is where the unemployed and poor people in Lusaka live. Despite the developments in Lusaka and it being the capital city, there is still so much poverty.

My heart breaks when I play with the kids in the ward and realize the conditions in which they live. For example, I spent a long time playing with Play-doh with some of the older kids yesterday. One little boy named Gift has club hands. As I was showing him how to roll the clay and play with it, my heart broke as he attempted to roll the clay with his disfigured fingers. Then he broke into a huge smile and giggle, and I remembered the promise that the Lord has for each of these children. Despite the pains of this world, they are perfect in His eyes.

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The children have incredible willpower and pain tolerance. Philemon (who goes by Philly) has severe clubfeet and spent the entire afternoon learning soccer tricks from Krista, a girl on our team, despite the fact that his feet face in entirely different direction than normal feet.

These kids are determined to not let anything hold them back. Two precious twin boys who are two years old have the most energy I have ever seen. They run around with us continuously and never tire, yet they have rickets which has caused severe bowed legs. Somehow they can still outrun me when I am chasing after them… it’s incredible!

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Also incredible: witnessing my first neurosurgery, maybe one of the coolest experiences EVER. I watched an ETV (Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy) procedure, and I am pretty sure my jaw dropped during the entire surgery. An eleven year old boy was treated for hydrocephalus as a baby and received a shunt, but the pressure through the shunt was too high. This surgery involved drilling a hole in the skull and using an endoscope through the brain. It was the most incredible thing I may have ever seen and I literally got to stand right behind the surgeon and watch over his shoulder as he talked me through the procedure. I was so humbled to have the opportunity to observe the masterpiece of neurosurgery.

Lord, I thank you for the power of healing through prayer and medicine, the talented hands and compassionate hearts of the surgeons, the hard-working nature of those that work at the hospital, the brothers and sisters in Christ that I have found, the beauty of a laugh and smile, the ability of that same laugh and smile to cross language barriers, and for the work that CURE does everyday in this place and around the world.

Originally posted at: http://journeytozambia.blogspot.com/2014/06/in-awe.html

Dale Brantner brings encouragement to CURE Uganda

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 seriesfiled by Edwin Ongom, our national CUREkids Coordinator in Uganda.

The staff at CURE Uganda was recently blessed by the presence of the CURE President and CEO Dale Brantner. He came to visit with Tim Erickson, CURE’s Vice President of Development and Sustainability. Dale and Tim met with the staff during our morning devotional time. After we sang a song, Dale shared scripture from Psalm 23.

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He encouraged folks here by reminding us that the Lord is guiding us and leading the work we do. He also shared his passion to double the number of surgeries that CURE performs annually over the course of the next five years. One of the clear goals is to maximize the impact of the work we do.

What I remember most from his speech was his reflection on walking through the wards at CURE Zambia. At CURE Zambia, much like CURE Uganda, many children are treated for hydrocephalus. He went through the wards in Zambia and found the third ward to be empty. When he looked around at the empty beds, he saw them as a representation of a children who haven’t been treated and will likely die from hydrocephalus.

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Nurses were particularly happy when Dale said he wanted to see more nurses trained! He was specifically proud of CURE Uganda as the primary neurosurgical hospital in the CURE family, which really encouraged us. It was also great to be reminded of CURE’s core values and how we ought to use these values as a motivational factor in healing the sick and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

Dr. Benjamin Warf to be named Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida Chair

ben_warfWe are pleased to announce yet another esteemed recognition for pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Warf. On Wednesday, Dr. Warf will be named the inaugural incumbent Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida Chair at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Warf currently serves at the Boston Children’s Hospital as an Associate in Neurosurgery and Director of Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery, as well as serving as Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at Harvard University. CURE supporters may know Dr. Warf best as the founding Medical Director of CURE Uganda. He currently serves on CURE’s Board of Directors.

Dr. Warf earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1984. In 2000, Dr. Warf, his wife, and their six children left the United States to serve at CURE Uganda. While there, he pioneered the ETV/CPC procedure for treating hydrocephalus, which has since revolutionized the treatment of hydrocephalus worldwide.

Wednesday’s honor will be the latest in a long line of accolades for Dr. Warf. Amongst many other awards and achievements, Dr. Warf was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation in 2012, at which time he was made a Fellow and awarded the Genius Grant.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Warf on his most recent accomplishment!

Little Bodies, Big Hearts

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A baby recovering at CURE Uganda

The fingers wrapped around my fingers are so little.

Little fingers that are attached to little hands and arms and bodies. There are ten tiny toes at the end of wiggling legs and two perfectly formed feet. A small but strong heartbeat resonates in the bare-skinned chest that rises and falls with my soothing strokes.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. –Psalm 139:13

It surprises me to realize that I’ve had a desk at CURE Headquarters for almost 6 months now. I spend my days educating others about CURE’s mission to live out Luke 9:2, “Healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God.” But that balmy, rain-filled Friday in Uganda was the first time my feet walked on CURE soil, a living, breathing place full of hope, life, and restoration. The lettering on the sign was familiar to my American eyes, but innately I knew there would be little else that was familiar.

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A view of Uganda while hiking in Sipi Falls

At CURE Uganda, there are babies everywhere: babies in arms, on backs, in beds, in and out of both the ward and the operating room. It’s impossible not to see the babies. Doors swish open and closed as nurses shuttle patients and medication. Footsteps fill the mazes of brick paths and blue pillars as meals are served, laundry is done, and children are healed. I’ve seen their pictures and read their stories, but nothing could prepare me for the familiar feeling of the soft, smoother baby skin jarringly stretched to encompass the life-threatening collection of fluids. The sickness is visible. It is impossible not to see it. It is impossible not to see the babies.

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A child recovering in intensive care at CURE Uganda

There are many parts of CURE – important parts, essential parts – that can get overlooked in the shuffle of the illness and the swollen heads, the protruding spinal growths and the cries of sunset-eyed little ones. There are so many things that demand attention that it’s easy to miss the women. They’re quiet. In fact, I rarely hear them speak. My white skin and inherently ethnocentric knowledge of languages makes its almost impossible to communicate. I know almost nothing about them. Yet, when I look at their faces, the familiar eyes of a mother stare back at me.

And they, alongside their precious little ones, are teaching me.

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A mother tends to her son in recovery in the ICU

I had this notion of what being at a CURE Hospital would be like. I hadn’t realized how limited and colored my perceptions of CURE’s procedures were until the brick and mortar, blood and sweat realities challenged them.

CURE has exceptional stories. Tales of witchcraft, seclusion, abandonment, and pain are miraculously transformed into stories of hope, healing, and possibility through the work faithfully being done at each and every CURE hospital. But the real heartbeat of CURE’s mission isn’t found in the exceptional stories alone.

To not slow down and see the beauty and the power that is so vastly present in the ordinary here would be entirely missing the point.

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Laundry drying in the breeze at CURE Uganda

It’s the mothers who tirelessly rock babies with heavy heads long after their arms have fallen asleep and their backs ache, the women who roll out of their own bed to tend to their neighbor’s child as it cries.

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A mother comforts her baby outside the patient ward

It’s the wiping of the bottoms, the washing of the sheets, the endless feedings and checkups, the strength of the heart behind the arms that hand their own flesh and blood off into the unknowns of surgery with the hope of something more, the promise of something better.

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A mother bathing her daughter at CURE Uganda

It’s the nurses who stay hours after their shift has ended just to be with the patients, the staff members who pause to pray for each and every baby before carrying them into the operating theater.

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Doctors and nursing of CURE Uganda

It’s the pursuit of daily excellence from each staff member, whether nurses or groundskeepers, cooks or neurosurgeons.

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Learning with Justine, a full-time cook at CURE Uganda

It’s a quiet, resounding strength.

Much like the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, where the voice of God is heard after the fire and the earthquake as a gentle whisper, the beauty and the power of CURE is not found in the extraordinary alone.

It’s in seeing a group of imperfect people, with flawed hearts and limited knowledge, who make the daily decision of difficult obedience and tiresome service in the healing of bodies and souls, that I am able to look at CURE Uganda and see the unabashedly humble and overwhelmingly glorious face of Jesus.

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A mother and son preparing to embark on their journey home

“Let the little children come unto me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Where hope for healing rested

Maureen’s parents, like most parents, eagerly anticipated the birth of their baby girl and were overjoyed when she arrived. But two months after her birth, their joy was interrupted. Maureen started having fevers that would not go away, despite all their efforts. They became very concerned, especially when Maureen started having frequent seizures and endless crying.

Some community members expressed their opinion that the spirit of the family’s dead grandfather had attacked the child. They urged Sandra to seek the help of a village witch doctor who was believed to be very powerful. Sandra rejected this advice and told the locals she felt compelled to seek help from professionals at the hospital. Maureen was admitted to the hospital for three days, but to the surprise of her parents, her head suddenly became very large. The doctor referred them to CURE Uganda after diagnosing Maureen with hydrocephalus.

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He wipes away the tears and brings a smile

Elizabeth, firstborn to her parents Josephine and James, was born perfectly healthy in January 2014. A few days after her birth, however, she started to develop fevers. Her parents took her to a nearby health center where she was admitted and treated, but her condition did not improve. Within the next month, Elizabeth started to have seizures, her head became enlarged, and her eyes began to sunset. Josephine and James became increasingly worried as her health continued to deteriorate and more complications developed. They took Elizabeth to several clinics, but their efforts were fruitless.

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Finding truth in the midst of falsehoods about hydrocephalus

Aol_Judith_121205_001Judith’s birth was a joy to her parents, Jenifer and Bonny, who had longed for a baby girl to love. She was born perfectly healthy, but only four days after being discharged from the hospital she started showing signs that something was wrong. Her frequent fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and endless crying were distressing to Jenifer and Bonny, and they began to panic. Close neighbors and friends didn’t help to ease their stress; they suggested that Judith had epilepsy and should be taken to the witch doctor for treatment. Jenifer rejected the idea and took Judith to the nearby hospital instead. After spending two weeks in the first hospital, Judith was transferred to another hospital for better treatment. She stayed for two days before being referred to CURE Uganda for expert treatment. The family had no money to travel to CURE, so they went back home to raise the money needed to make the trip. Read the rest of this entry »