Fabrice is an 11 year old boy sponsored to go to school through Africa New Life in Rwanda. When he was 9, his right ankle began to bother him. It was swelling and painful. Eventually, the skin broke and he began to have drainage from the area. This prompted his parents to take him to the doctor and ultimately he had a surgery in November 2013 to drain the infection. During this surgery, he had 2 liters of drainage come out of his ankle. An American doctor was in Rwanda at the time and brought some cultures back to the United States in an attempt to diagnose what caused the infection. All of the testing was unrevealing. He was treated in Rwanda with a short course of antibiotics. He improved for a few months and was pain free, fever free, and drainage free until March 2014. About this time, he began to have drainage from the middle of his lower leg, his leg swelled, and the pain came back. I met Fabrice in June 2014. His leg was indeed swollen almost to his knee. He had several open areas of skin that were tender and were draining. The infection was not only in the skin and muscle but had also spread into his bone. This is a much more difficult medical problem to treat.
Despite all of this, I had a feeling Fabrice minimized his pain. He said he would still play with the other kids at school but admitted he couldn't run as fast as the other kids. He told me he couldn't always play soccer like he wanted to.
I began to explore options for how to get Fabrice proper treatment both in Rwanda, in other regional countries within Africa, as well as exploring bringing Fabrice to the US. In theory, with proper surgery and antibiotics, Fabrice could save his leg. Africa New Life learned that in Kenya and Uganda the standard for antibiotic treatment was similar to Rwanda and both were significantly sub-standard to the minimum treatment in the US. We learned from American physicians in Rwanda, that generally speaking, a few attempts are made at treatment followed by a low threshold for amputation. Our biggest barrier to keeping Fabrice in Rwanda for treatment hinged on duration of antibiotic treatment. I consulted Dr. Lundgren, Infectious Disease specialist with St. Luke's who preliminarily recommended a probable six months of daily IV antibiotics. We were told by several physicians in Rwanda that the maximum length of IV antibiotics would be 10 days. Without a facility in Rwanda where Africa New Life could manage this ourselves, and in order to have any possibility of saving Fabrice's leg, he would need to come to the US for care.
I met with the Director of Pediatrics, Dr. Janos at St. Luke's who agreed to take his case as charity. Dr. Janos then graciously coordinated with all the other individuals and entities that would need to also donate their time or services to treat Fabrice. Once we had these pieces in place, Fabrice applied for his medical visa, was approved and got on a plane.
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of imaging studies and bloodwork. He met with both his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Showalter and Infectious Disease doctor, Dr. Lundgren. He had surgery on March 16th. We continue to pray that the treatment will save Fabrice's leg but according to Dr. Showalter, he has multiple pockets of infection and he is not out of the woods yet so to speak.
Prayer requests for Fabrice: 1. That the infection in the bone resolves and he will not require an amputation 2. That the skin and soft tissue infection heals. The skin had to be stretched quite thin and sometimes this compromises the blood flow to heal the area. 3. Arranging post-hospital care: His IV antibiotics will cost about $100 per day unless we can get this donated. The preliminary estimate is that he will need daily IV antibiotics for six months. 4. Pray for Fabrice's host family, the Steinmetz, as they care for him in all the ways that he will need.
God has already provided in so many ways for Fabrice I am confident that He will continue to do so. If you know anyone who can help with the above prayer requests or if you are interested in giving to the Good Samaritan Fund with Africa New Life, the funds go to kids with special medical needs like Fabrice. Visit their website at www.africanewlife.org.