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Healing the Children

Zulea from Tanzania

Zulea and Dr. Chariker
Zulea and Dr. Chariker

Zulea, a 16 year old Tanzanian, came to the attention of Healing The Children Kentucky Chapter and Norton (Kosair) Children’s Hospital in late spring 2016. Her medical needs were identified by two physicians from the University of Louisville: Bethany Hodge, M.D. and William Smock, M.D. during a student medical mission trip.

Zulea had suffered from an unknown dermatological scalp condition that caused irrevocable damage to her hair follicles and caused extensive open wounds that covered 70% of her scalp. She had suffered from this for 10 years, but it had become severe in the past 3 years. The past 3 years in Tanzania she had been hospitalized seven times, often for months at a time.  
 
Cancer was suspected but biopsies showed that was not the case. Extensive testing including genetic testing was performed. Her condition to this day remains undiagnosed, baffling over 20 specialists from across the United States who consulted on her case. Undeterred by the lack of answers but resolute in their desire to help her, plastic surgeon Mark Chariker, M.D. and Dermpath specialist George Sonnier, M.D. treated her wounds. After five months of daily home treatments and weekly doctor treatments she was clearly on the mend. She returned home just after Christmas 2016 with wound treatment supplies from our charitable partner Supplies Over Seas.   
 
Other physicians also provided her with glasses and dental work which greatly enhanced her life. She proclaimed one day while we drove, “What is that in the sky?”

“A rainbow,” I answered thinking she just needed the English word.

With amazement she stated, “Oh, I’ve heard of those, but never been able to see one.” Her time here was not only spent in medical healing but also in learning our culture and language. She returned to her village energized to be an asset to her community by translating and helping in medical clinics.  
 
She taught us all many things but most notably she modeled bravery and gratitude as she journeyed in this foreign land and underwent painful daily treatments. The memory of her quick smile and thank you after each of those treatments still brings tears to my eyes.

Zulea with Elena, another HTC child from Guatemala
Zulea with Elena, another HTC child from Guatemala

I’m thrilled to announce that HTC KY will partner with William Smock, M.D. and his wife Cathy - Zulea’s host family - on a medical mission trip to Tanzania this July. It will be a chance to follow up with Zulea and to bring the gift of healing to many more Tanzanian children.

Debi McDonald, director
Healing the Children Kentucky

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