By Lorraine Anyango
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) has become a beacon of hope for many, including 25-year-old Constance Atieno. Born with spinal bifida at Lumumba Hospital, Atieno underwent surgery at JOOTRH just three months after her birth.
Despite her condition, Atieno was able to sit and walk with the help of crutches at a young age. She joined an Early Education Center (ECD) at the age of five and later attended a normal boarding school until class eight.
However, after completing her primary education, Atieno’s life took a difficult turn. She refused to continue schooling and locked herself in her room. Her mother believes this was due to the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Atieno’s condition also worsened. She began to fall frequently, and her right side became numb. An MRI revealed that she needed surgery to correct her spine and unblock a blockage in her brain.
“Many people said that she had ‘ujonjwa ya wajaluo,'” Atieno’s mother says, referring to a traditional belief about a mysterious illness. “But today I am happy to be in this ward waiting for help in this Neuro camp.”
Atieno is just one of many patients who have benefited from the Neurosurgical camp currently underway at JOOTRH. So far, 14 successful surgeries have been performed, and more are planned.
The camp brings together a world-class team of specialists from across the globe to provide life-changing surgery for people with debilitating neurological conditions. The team includes surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, equipment representatives, and symposium organizers.
The camp is a collaboration between the Kisumu Neuroscience Initiative, Dokis ADVICE, and JOOTRH. It is held every three months and provides an opportunity for local medical professionals to learn from the visiting specialists.
One of the key requirements for participating in the camp is an updated HNIF membership, which ensures that patients have access to quality care.
Stories of hope and healing
The Neurosurgical camp at JOOTRH is not just about providing medical care; it is also about giving people hope. Atieno’s story is just one example of the many lives that have been transformed by the camp.
Another patient, Elizabeth Chemil, is grateful for the care her one-and-a-half-year-old son received at the camp. Her son underwent surgery for a head swelling caused by fluid buildup, and he is now recovering well.
“I have noticed the swelling on his front head is decreasing in size after the successful surgery,” Chemil says. “I am hopeful that my child will lead a normal life.”
The Neurosurgical camp is a vital lifeline for people in Western Kenya who would otherwise not have access to this type of care. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and the dedication of medical professionals who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others.