Dear Friends and Family,
I was on call a few months ago and one of our doctors called to tell me they were sending in a 13 year old orphan they met at their rural outreach clinic. When I first met Garedo I thought he was hours from death. He was really struggling to breathe, with low oxygen saturation. His belly was swollen like a balloon with fluid, more than I have ever seen on a boy of his size. He is an orphan living in a rural area and has no siblings, but was being cared for by his uncle. With no ability to pay for his care, he was immediately placed on our Hospital Benevolence Fund to cover all his hospital expenses including food, bed, medicines, tests, and oxygen. He has been hospitalized two times and for a period of about 2 months. During his hospital care we have diagnosed him to have rheumatic heart disease, a preventable heart problem affecting one of his heart valves (severe mitral stenosis).
Though our hospital staff have been able to love him well and provide good medical care, I have been so grieved by the fact that there is nowhere in Ethiopia where we can take him that routinely offers cardiac surgery. Through our medical treatments we have been placing a bandaid on his medical problem, not treating the source. Garedo’s story, though hard, is common here. People die in Ethiopia of diseases that can be prevented or treated in another context. I have cried and prayed for Garedo and the injustice that it is for him to be without treatment, that it isn’t even possible here. As I and others have cried for him and prayed for him, Garedo’s life has been changed. Garedo gave his life to Jesus. He told us that he felt so loved here and wanted the hope and peace that come with the salvation God so freely gives us.
The very next week, we heard there was a group of cardiac surgeons that have come to Addis Ababa that may be willing and able to treat Garedo. This past month he went to Black Lion Hospital in the capital, all paid for by our supporters (thank you) to have his pre-op evaluation. He is on the waiting list for cardiac surgery. The list is long, but possible. Through a divine meeting, I have become friends with the head of pediatric cardiology at Black Lion, so I am praying that makes communication easier and his surgery more of a reality.
Working and living here is hard. In so many ways it requires intentional persistence and dedication to not give up… even when its hard. Otherwise we would just be giving up all the time. Our constant prayer and focus:
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58