Before Emmanuel Zobinou, an 11-year-old Ghanaian boy was brought to the Ho Teaching hospital, he had already undergone two separate surgeries.
Young Emmanuel was brought to the hospital by his maternal uncle, Charles Akoesu who learned of a team of medical doctors coming from the US to conduct free plastic surgeries.
Emmanuel was suffering from a complex tumour that had left one side of his face almost disfigured.
The tumour started developing when he was just four years old.
“The thing started just like a normal boil on the of his ear and then as time went on the thing started growing and ended up covering the entire left portion of his face and neck, so in 2017 he had the first surgery,” the uncle, Charles Akoesu said.
The first and second surgeries all took place in hospitals in the Republic of Togo, where Emmanuel and his mother live.
According to Emmanuel’s uncle, the first surgery cost them some CFA Franc 200,000 equivalent to about GHS3,800 in 2017, and another CFA Franc 15,000 equivalent to about GHS2,850 for the second surgery a year later.
Charles Akoesu said, “It was impossible for us to be able to afford another surgery for him. After the first two surgeries, the tumour continued to grow big.”
Emmanuel’s condition was negatively impacting his academics and social life as he grew timid and could no longer mingle freely with his peers.
The tumour was so heavy that he could no longer do anything physical or play football with his peers as he used to.
For a family with little or no sustainable source of income, all hopes were lost as his health deteriorated with the tumour threatening the life of their once lively young boy.
But Charles Akoesu, Emmanuel’s uncle, would not relent. He went ostensibly searching for a place to save his nephew and have his life restored.
“Seeing his condition worsen, I went for him. I took a copy of his medical scan and brought it to the Ho Teaching hospital to make enquiries but I can’t remember how much was quoted for the surgery. But while at it, I learned of the free surgeries to be conducted by a team of medical doctors from the US.”
On Wednesday, 12th October 2022 Emmanuel was wheeled into one of the surgical theaters at the Ho Teaching hospital having gone through the necessary screening.
The lead surgeon for his case was Dr. LAME Cheikh Ahmedou, a Senegalese.
Dr. LAME arrived in the country with some other 33 medical practitioners – a team known as RESTORE WORLDWIDE led by the renowned US-based Ghanaian Surgeon, Dr. Michael K. Obeng.
Before Dr. Lame entered the theatre, he told Starr News that, “Emmanuel’s case is a complex one. I am aware he has had two surgeries already but the nature of his condition requires that we do another surgery to get rid of the tumour.”
Asked what could happen if the procedure is not done on Emmanuel, Dr. LAME said, “the tumour could grow bigger to cover his entire face. It could also grow so big and could lead to his death.”
These words from Dr. LAME, who is believed to be so good at his work left the news team worried but hopeful.
At about 11 o’clock that morning, Dr. LAME and his team shut the doors to the theater room to begin the surgery.
For hours, the news team and Emmanuel’s uncle, Charles Akoesu waited. Charles, on the other hand, was filled with anxiety and left worried since the surgery was taking longer than expected.
For well over 4-hours, no news came -at some point, the number of surgeons in the theatre increased with about four doctors attending to Emmanuel, a situation that reinforced the complexity of his case.
The long wait was over, the doctors walked out of the theatre full of smiles but exhausted as the motionless boy was wheeled out of the theatre on a stretcher.
At a glance, one would have thought that he was dead but visible enough was pulsation across his body which quickly dispelled any of such thoughts.
Dr. Obeng told the waiting news team that the long hours in the theatre was as a result of the complex nature of the tumour which required very skillful surgeons.
“The tumor engulfed the common carotid artery and also at the bifurcation of the artery. All the essential cranial nerves were in danger of injury so one has to be very knowledgeable about the anatomy as well as very skillful to be able to deal with such a case,” Dr. Obeng said.
Yes, the surgery was successful, and Emmanuel’s life was restored but thanks to that man, Dr. LAME Cheikh Ahmedou and his team.
Charles Akoesu could not hide his joy when his nephew was wheeled out of the theatre.
“I’m filled with joy. I was worried for the long hours I had to wait but seeing him now, I am confident that my nephew’s life has been RESTORED. He has a life again.”
A week after, the Starr News team followed up at the Ho Teaching hospital to meet Emma and his uncle again.
At the time, they were there for a medical review and wound dressing as the uncle prepares to take him back to his mother in Anexo, the Republic of Togo.
Before he was taken away, en route to Togo, Emmanuel spoke and did that effortlessly – speaking in his Anexo Ewe accent.
“I’m healthy now. I am sure my wounds will heal soon so I can join my friends to play football and score goals. I am happy that I have my life back.”
Such is the case of one out of the many lives restored by Dr. Obeng and his medical team with some 174 persons with cases such as cleft, goitre and serious skin burns, and congenital defects benefiting from this live-saving initiative who possibly could not have afforded the cost of their surgeries.