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When an illness prevents you from going to school

At seven years, Sossi has never been to school. 

Sosthenes “Sossi” was born with a birth defect: he had no anal opening. The only way to fix it was through surgery. 

Despite this birth defect being relatively common, a 4-month-old baby undergoing an operation is a complex procedure and, understandably, Sossi’s mum Maria* was really scared. 

Her fears became true when the surgical team encountered some complications during Sossi’s first operation, where his urinary tract was damaged. Sossi had to be rushed by ambulance to a national hospital more than 400 kilometres from Ifakara, Sossi’s hometown, due to his worsening condition. 

When Sossi arrived at Muhimbili National Hospital as an emergency case, he was rushed to surgery. Fortunately, Kids Operating Room had installed two dedicated children’s Operating Rooms in the hospital a few years ago. Sossi didn’t have to wait for his operation, but if it weren’t for the KidsOR installation, Sossi would probably be on a waiting list for days. At Muhimibili hospital, they were able to create an anal opening for Sossi, however they still needed to treat his urinary tract in a follow-up operation. 

But the operation didn’t happen straight away because Sossi’s family couldn’t afford the bus fare between their home and Muhimibili. Maria’s finances were hit hard when her husband passed away when Sossi was just three years old. As the sole earner in the family and with two children, one of which suffered from a debilitating illness, raising money for hospital care was extremely difficult: 

“It’s quite challenging to raise the bus fare. I needed at least US50 dollars to travel to Muhimbili” recalls Maria. 

While trying to raise funds for the trip to the hospital, Sossi’s condition continued to deteriorate and prevented him from living a normal childhood. He couldn’t go to school, he wasn’t able to play with other children his age, and eating was becoming a bigger issue. 

It took over a year for Maria to be able to afford just the bus fare to travel back to Muhimibili National Hospital, where Sosi finally underwent the follow-up operation. 

Thanks to the expertise of the surgical team and the availability of children’s sized surgical tools, they were able to fix Sosi’s urinary tract. Sossi, who is now happily recovering at Muhimibili National Hospital, hopes to be back home soon so that he can finally start going to school

As for Maria, she couldn’t thank Dr. Zaituni, Sossi’s paediatric surgeon, enough: 

“Dr. Zaituni has helped us so much after seeing the challenges I was going through. Thank you.” 

Since the installation of the two Operating Rooms at Muhimibili National Hospital, KidsOR has returned to Tanzania to equip other hospitals with the paediatric surgical facilities the country desperately needed. This is part of KidsOR’s vision to equip national and district hospitals across African countries with the infrastructure they need to treat children. 

Bringing safe surgical care closer to children means families won’t have to travel such long distances to receive treatment, and therefore wouldn’t be as financially impacted by them.

*Name changed to protect their identities

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