You may remember baby Parfait, the 8-month old child with hydrocephalus who we wrote about in December.God answered your prayers….in a big way. We knew that Parfait's only hope would come from afar…so we looked first towards the United States and then Europe for help.Little did we know that hope and a cure was on the African continent.
We had several leads but it would take tens of thousands of dollars to secure the needed operation even if the doctors volunteered their services.Aside from the financial implications; hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the brain) requires the insertion of a shunt or plastic tube buried under the skin to keep fluid from re-accumulating in the brain.Such shunts have to be changed every four to five years as children grow. If the shunt became blocked or infected while back in Africa the child could die.
We heard about a Christian surgeon in another part of Africa who was treating such children with an unconventional method not yet approved in Europe or the U.S. Rather than insert a plastic tube, the doctor makes a tiny incision through the fontanel (soft spot on top of the skull) and then inserts a fiber-optic cable to visually find the blockage. He then burns a small hole in the canal (using the same cable) essentially opening up a new drain.The cure rate is in excess of 80% and is permanent….no shunts, no tubes, no complications.The costs, including CT scan, surgery, intensive care and hospitalization….is an astounding four-hundred dollars! This sounded too good to be true.I did a web search (we have internet in Congo when the electricity works).The physician, Dr Ben Warf, a Christian neurosurgeon tucked away in an obscure part of Uganda has been performing over 600 such cases a year for children from all over Africa.I wrote Dr Warf and he replied, "If you can get the child to Uganda, I'll operate on her". In some respects this would be no small feat considering that Uganda was on the other side of the continent and that Congo and Uganda had been at war for over 6 years…but that wasn't a problem for God.
To make a long story short we made arrangements for parents and child to fly from their village in Vanga to the capital city of Kinshasa on an MAF relief flight. Parfait's parents had never seen a tarred road or street lights in their life much less ride in an airplane. That was about to change big time. Ann and I purchased passports for the family and then booked them seats on a commercial flight from Congo to Kenya to Uganda. A colleague from Vanga, German pediatrician Dr Forster was in Kenya for a Christian medical conference at the time and accompanied the child to Uganda to follow her care.Clearly God's hand was in all of this.
Young Parfait arrived at The Cure Pediatric Hospital in Uganda on a Tuesday and had a CT scan that same day. She was in surgery the next morning, intensive care that afternoon, back on the pediatric ward her 3rd day, and on the way back to Congo the next.The only "pre-approval" we needed for her surgery was from above……which happens to be the domain of her ‘preferred provider'(PPO)
The surgery was a success, the bill was paid in full and the follow-up plans prescribed by Dr Warf were simple enough:Keep an ace bandage on her head until the bones are molded back to normal; no need for follow up tests, x-rays, or medicine…..just provide nourishment and watch the child grow.Health care can be so uncomplicated in Africa especially when we get our priorities right: God at the front…and everyone else behind!
We welcomed parents and child back to our home last week. Parfait's head is already half its former size. She lifts her head without effort, smiles, is playful and is starting to form words. The surgical team in Uganda believes her prognosis is excellent. Praise God from whom all blessings come!
Parfait's parents were excited about their daughter's recovery and couldn't wait to return to their village to tell of the miracle of their daughter's cure.They talked about how when Jesus healed a person He admonished them to keep quiet."We can't do that", the young couple told Ann."We have witnessed ‘une véritable miracle' (a true miracle) and we want to tell everyone what God has done for our child".They were quite animated that Sunday afternoon and made me wonder why we aren't like that more often.After all….God's cure for this child is not altogether different than what He has done for us. We were lost and without hope….but were found and are now alive in Christ.
God is indeed our ‘perfect' and ‘preferred' provider.Only God could bring together a couple and their church in upstate New York with a church in rural Maine and in urban New Jersey; office workers in New Windsor, Maryland,pilots from MAF and doctors from Germany, Uganda, the United States and DRC……to make the impossible happen.
For these and others who pray for our work and contribute so children like these can live….only God can thank you sufficiently.
With peace and joy from Congo,
Ann and Bill ClemmerMt 19:14Jesus said…Let the little children come do me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.