SCHOOLGIRL Gloria Abeka can look forward to a better life – thanks to the kindness of Basing-stoke hospital doctor Keith Thomson and the surgical skill of colleagues.
Consultant anaesthetist Dr Thomson met 11-year-old Gloria in Ghana’s capital city Accra at the home of his friend Stella Ayiku, a former nurse, who thought he may be able to help the young girl.
Dr Thomson was in the country last January as part of a trip he took on the Africa Mercy ship, a charity ship where volunteer medical experts like Dr Thomson provide health care to the poor.
Gloria suffers from Blount’s disease – a condition which has resulted in serious bowing of both her legs below her knees and left her struggling to walk.
Touched by her plight, Dr Thomson resolved to try to help her. Because of the severity of her condition, Dr Thomson emailed top surgeons in the UK asking for recommendations of anyone who could help, and he was thrilled when Mr Adrian Wilson, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Basingstoke, referred her to his friend in Southampton, consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Mr Vel Sakthivel.
Mr Sakthivel agreed to operate on Gloria for free – but Mr Thomson then faced the daunting challenge of raising nearly £6,000 for theatre fees, blood tests, x-rays and the hospital stay.
Fortunately, he was successful, and a few weeks ago, Gloria underwent an operation which successfully straightened her right leg. This involved triple osteotomies with three plates and 11 screws in addition to bone grafting of her right tibia and fibula.
Dr Thomson said: “The operation went extremely well and hopefully it will make a big difference to her. She is a really lovely girl, very bright, and hopefully she will receive the second operation soon.”
Gloria is currently staying with family friends in Slough, and it is hoped a second operation on her left leg will take place next month.
Gloria said the surgery would make a really big difference to her life. She told The Gazette: “I am really happy. My legs were very bowed. My family and friends will be amazed.”