One day a little over two years ago, an Irish nun from Zimbabwe walked in to the Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital in Lusaka looking for the only reconstructive surgeon in the country, Dr. Goran Jovic.
Somehow she had heard of Goran—our surgical outreach program director in Zambia—and came to ask him if he would help a 2-year-old girl named Takunda from Harare, Zimbabwe, who was in need of surgical care.
When she was just one year old, Takunda was with her mother near an open fire, which is often relied upon in developing countries for cooking and lighting. Takunda reached down with both hands and grabbed the hot ash from the fire, thinking it was soil. Her hands were badly burned as a result, and because she did not get adequate care for the injuries, severe burn scar contractures formed on both hands. All of her fingers contracted together and fused to her palm, essentially making her hands useless stumps.
“Wait a minute. There are plastic surgeons in Zimbabwe,” Goran had said to the nun. “I know at least one of them. Why do they not help her?”
The Irish nun replied that although those surgeons were willing to help, they worked in private clinics and were asking for a very large sum of money that Takunda’s mother could not afford. After looking at photos of Takunda’s hands, Goran told the nun that if she could get the little girl to Lusaka, he would be able to treat her for free through our surgical outreach program.
Two months later, Takunda and her mother traveled by bus from Harare to Lusaka and arrived at the hospital, where Goran provided her first operation to free the burn scar contractures on her hands. He has operated three more times since then and says she has already become quite good at using her hands.
Now four years old, she can color pictures and will be able to learn to write. She will need additional surgical procedures in the near future to develop full functionality in her hands, but Goran is hopeful and says she is a very smart girl.
To help enable Goran to provide additional surgeries to more children like Takunda, please consider making a donation before the end of this month. If given by June 30, your gift could be doubled!