Boy who nearly lost leg may walk again

LOS ANGELES Three years ago, an insect bite nearly killed five-year-old Kofi Saliah. The infection entered his lymphatic system and ate away at his right leg.

He and his mother, Mary, live alone in a small fishing village in Ghana. Speaking through an interpreter, she says an African child with a disability basically has no future.

"When a baby is handicapped in Africa, he will surely grow up to beg on the street," said Mary through her interpreter Dennis Okyere.

Ghana doctors managed to save his life and his leg. But Kofi needed specialized surgery to regain function. Missionaries from Life Ministry heard about his ordeal. After two years of planning, the group arranged to bring Kofi to Shriners Hospital for Children.

"What we're going to do is take a little piece of tissue in this shape, like the shape of a little loaf of bread here, move it behind his knee and reconnect the blood vessels to a blood vessel here," explains Dr. Curtis Cetrulo from Shriners Hospital for Children.

Hopefully microsurgical grafting will get Kofi's knee to bend normally again. The next challenge is to find a way to even out his legs.

"The growth center is affected to, so his leg is going to be a little shorter when he's 14," said Dr. Norman Otsuka from the Shriners Hospital for Children.

The eight hour surgery will be performed free of charge, and it'll take several follow-up visits to achieve optimum results.

Mary is grateful her son is receiving care, but she says so many more children in Ghana also need help.

Kofi hopes he'll grow to be a strong man, so he can take care of his mom.

"And he'll come out successfully, and be a good guy, and go to school and help his mother," said Kofi through interpreter Dennis Okyere.


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