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Doctors save young boy from amputation

May 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A year ago, doctors at Shriners Hospital for Children in L.A. were faced with a daunting challenge. Severe infection had ravaged a young boy's leg. Not only did they have to save it, they had to rebuild it. Thursday, a young boy from Ghana says he's going home with more than just a new leg: he's got a shot at a new life.He aims, he shoots and he scores! Not bad for an 8-year-old who nearly lost his right leg before he could even walk.

"Today I am overjoyed because Kofi is 200-percent better than he was before he came," said Terri Okyere.

Terri Okyere and members from her Downey church were on a mission in Ghana when they found Kofi Soliah in a small fishing village.

Doctors told Okyere they'd have to amputate Kofi's leg because of an infection. So she brought him to to Shriners Hospital where he underwent the first of five surgeries to repair his leg. That was last year.

Doctors were faced with a big challenge. When Kofi was just 8 months old, he got an insect bite that became severely infected. Since then, the infection has eaten away at much of his muscle and bone.

"His leg was really frozen like a cement rock and we had to dissect down and find blood vessels in there and that was what was difficult about the case," said Dr. Curtis Cetrulo.

Surgeons in Africa wanted to amputate. Okyere knew that in Kofi's village people with disabilities don't have much to look forward to.

"They would face a future of begging in the streets of Nacra," said Okyere.

Now Kofi's future is much brighter. He'll be heading back to Ghana with a special elevated shoe. The plan is to bring him back next year for more surgery to even out his legs. But, the four inch difference isn't slowing Kofi down. During a recent trip to Disneyland, his friends couldn't keep up.

Kofi may like American basketball, but he loves football. He's also picked up a lot English. Okyere's missionary group hopes to continue Kofi's education by finding him a sponsor to pay for his schooling.

"The sky is the limit, if we can keep him school Kofi can be whatever he wants to be," said Okyere.

A doctor, Kofi says, so he can help other children like himself.

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