We met Natalie this summer when she came to our clinic at the orphanage. When she was a small girl she was washing clothes in dirty, stagnant water. She contracted a disease that would slowly change her life. It was so small at the time that her family didn't seek any medical help. Like any other scrape or cut, they expected it would go away on its own.
Year after year, the muscle and flesh in Natalie's arm and buttocks was being eaten away by toxins. By the time she came to us it had done so much damage, we feared for her life.
We took Natalie to visit a few different doctors, but nobody was able to make a diagnosis. We consulted with American doctor friends that we know and it was suggested that this looked like a Buruli Ulcer. This is a slow necrotizing disease common in West Africa, but it was the first time that the doctors in our region had seen it. Finally, a doctor in the capital confirmed what it was, but we were having difficulty getting treatment for her.
Because she would likely need surgery and months of antibiotics, we asked Natalie's family if she could stay at the orphanage. Since she would be living here, we had our seamstress start training her how to sew. Even with limited use of her arm she has become very good with the sewing machine, making handbags and dresses. We have been constantly amazed at the perseverance that Natalie displays. She does not allow her disability to stop her from doing anything. She is often found doing the other girls in the orphanage's hair and helps our cook cut vegetables in the kitchen.
Today is the day that Natalie has surgery. She will have dead tissue removed and a plastic surgeon will reconstruct as much as possible. After this, Natalie will begin recovery and a treatment plan to be sure no additional toxins are lingering in her system, ready to do more damage.
Natalie's future is changing. She is beating her illness. She has learned a new skill. When it is time for Natalie to leave, she will have what is necessary to succeed.
Please pray for Natalie today!