Cure Children’s Hospital has provided a lifeline for more than 1,900 babies born with birth defects this year. These medical interventions have transformed the lives of infants like Esther Akol, who faced severe challenges due to spina bifida, a birth defect affecting the spine and spinal cord. Esther’s story is a testament to the hospital’s commitment to saving lives.
Spina bifida is a congenital condition where the spine and spinal cord do not develop properly. Esther’s mother, Ms. Agnes Akol, was initially misled by her community, believing her daughter’s condition to be a curse. In desperation, she attempted to strangle the newborn three days after birth. It was only after the intervention of a village health team member that she learned about Cure Children’s Hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Ms. Akol was faced with the daunting challenge of paying Shs750,000 for her daughter’s surgery, an amount her family could not afford. In her desperation, she even tried to dispose of Esther in a hospital pit-latrine, but a compassionate staff member intervened. It was this act of kindness that ultimately saved Esther’s life.
The hospital’s management, recognizing the dire circumstances, decided to perform the surgery on Esther free of charge. Today, Esther, now 19 years old, is a living testament to the hospital’s life-saving mission. She reflects on her mother’s regret over the attempt to take her life, a stark contrast to the hope she represents now.
Agnes Nambozo, a mother from Sironko District with a child born with hydrocephalus, shares her perspective on the stigmatization that children with neurological disorders face in their communities. Hydrocephalus, characterized by an accumulation of fluid within the brain, can lead to increased pressure on the brain.
Ms. Nambozo emphasizes that the community often judges such children unfairly, despite their potential for academic success if they receive appropriate medical attention. The hospital’s work challenges these stereotypes and offers a brighter future for children born with neurological conditions.
Dr. Emmanuel Wegoye, the medical director of Cure Children’s Hospital, highlights the hospital’s significant contribution in performing more than 1,900 brain surgeries on babies this year. Most parents, however, lack the means to afford the treatment, which costs more than Shs6.5 million per surgery. Without these interventions, infants are at risk of severe disabilities or even death.
To address this financial gap, the hospital organizes brain surgery runs, such as the recent one that raised over UGX 300 million. These events play a vital role in ensuring that more than 2,000 brain surgeries can be conducted in the upcoming year, offering hope to countless families.
Tim Erickson, the hospital’s chief executive officer, underscores their unwavering commitment to saving vulnerable children. Angelina Wapakhabulo, a hospital board member, emphasizes the importance of raising awareness and fighting stigmatization, particularly in rural communities. The hospital acknowledges the dedicated staff and the mothers who entrust their children’s care to their institution.
Connie Galiwango, the Mbale City Woman MP, joins the call for community support to assist families with children born with these challenging complications. Cure Children’s Hospital stands as a beacon of hope for these families, striving to ensure that no child is left behind.