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14 months of pain ended

"We're just so grateful to the paediatric surgical team for not giving up on him..." 

12-year-old Brian, from Lilongwe, Malawi, went through nearly 2 years of pain that no child should suffer.

Brian was living an ordinary childhood growing up in Malawi. He was in year 5 at school and enjoyed playing football with friends.

It started in November 2021. While in school, Brian began to suffer fever and pain. Symptoms commonly associated with malaria.

Concerned, Brian's parents kept him off school and took him to a local clinic. Then another. Then to their nearest hospital. Still, Brian's condition wasn't improving. It was getting worse.

Malaria-like symptoms were replaced by a severely swollen and painful stomach.

Doctors at the local hospital were unable to identify the issue. They were given pain management and sent home.

A month later, no improvement. In fact, Brian's stomach was now even more extended. Even more painful.

After returning and spending a week at hospital, Brian was admitted to Kamuzu Central Hospital, a facility with a KidsOR Operating Room.

Here, Brian was diagnosed with tuberculosis. For a child in a low- and middle-income country, this has potentially fatal consequences.

But Brian's condition was to worsen still. 3 days into treatment, his abdomen burst. He's too malnourished to undergo surgery so the team are unable to properly treat him.

It's now March. Three months have passed and Brian has not been able to put on enough wait for the operation he needs. The decision is made that he needs to undergo an exploratory procedure to examine the root of his issues.

While essential to treat Brian, at his current weight this procedure is risky. His parents are counselled and agree to the operation. Their alternative, to take Brian home for palliative care, is unthinkable.

The surgery is a success. During the operation, the team identifies and cures a series of perforations in Brian's stomach.

Recovering in isolation because of his TB, Brian's wound collapses. Another surgery is performed. A week later Brian is operated on again, this time to fit a stoma.

Alone in isolation, Brian is trying to recover from a series of operations and multiple surgical wounds. He weights just 15kg - dangerously low for his age.

Thankfully, by April, Brian was on the right track. He was sitting upright and walking. By the end of the month, he'd recovered enough to return home.

He spent the next 11 months regularly returning to Kamuzu Hospital for check-ups and would often amaze the team there with his recovery.

Now, Brian is fully recovered.

"It felt like he was near death for two years. We're so grateful to the surgical team," his mother told us.

"Brian is delighted to resume school and play football again. We're so happy that our life is back to normal."

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