Heal Aboubacar, Save his Sight

Aboubacar in the middle wearing his beloved soccer uniform surrounded by his brothers and sister and his father, Karinka, and  mother Doussou Kaba.

Aboubacar Kouyate is nine years old. He lives in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, a country now well known because of the Ebola outbreak that started there. While that story commanded the world’s attention, the epidemic had a secondary catastrophic impact. Guinea’s already fragile medical infrastructure virtually collapsed. The few functioning hospitals are seriously understaffed and underequipped. In all of Guinea, there is no pediatric neurosurgeon.

And caught in the middle of all this is a small boy with a malfunctioning shunt in his brain who is unable to get the surgery that he needs to prevent permanent brain damage, paralysis and even death. The buildup of fluid in his brain landed him in the hospital in July of 2014. He was barely conscious and suffering from a high fever, severe headache and seizures. He couldn’t stand or coordinate his muscle movements. And because of the pressure, he’s now blind in one eye and has only 50% vision in the other eye. Doctors say there is a 90% chance that his vision will return when the pressure is relieved either by revising or replacing the shunt.

With the help of Rachel Martinez, a friend of who’s been working in Guinea for two years, Aboubacar’s father, Karinka, has found a hospital in Casablanca, Morocco where his son can get the life-saving treatment he needs. The cost of the necessary tests, surgical fee and hospitalization is $6,600 plus $1800 to cover the roundtrip airfare for father and son via Royal Air Maroc, the only carrier that flies directly from Conakry to Casablanca.

Aboubacar’s father earns $500/month as a driver for the American Embassy in Conakry. While his annual salary of $6,000 is more than 5 times the $1125 that the average Guinean earns, it’s not enough to support his wife, five children and extended family and cover the cost of Aboubacar’s surgery.

Still, Karinka has managed to raise $3000 towards the cost. He needs the additional $5400 and he needs it quickly. With every passing day, the potential for Aboubacar to suffer irreversible complications grows more acute.

Aboubacar was 5 months old when he contracted meningitis in 2005. The illness caused brain swelling due to an increase of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain (hydrocephalus). At that time, surgeons implanted a shunt in his brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid into his abdominal cavity preventing serious complications.

Aboubacar recovered and thrived. He went to school with his brothers and sisters. He played soccer, a game he loves. He organized a neighborhood team and helped raise money for the team’s uniforms. For his skillful footwork, the team dubbed him Ronaldo after the Real Madrid soccer star.

And then on July 5 of last year, during breakfast, Aboubacar asked his father why it was still dark out. His eyesight was failing as the intracranial pressure built up. Within two days, he was in the hospital with a high fever, headache and vomiting. There, doctors identified the problem with the shunt and managed to get his symptoms under control with a drug cocktail but warned that it was a temporary stopgap. Without the surgery, Aboubacar symptoms will return and next time he could suffer permanent complications include brain damage and paralysis.

Last month, the schools in Conakry that had been closed because of Ebola finally reopened. Aboubacar asked his father when he would be able to join his siblings and friends in the classroom. Karinka told him that he will be able to return after his surgery. “But when will that happen?” Aboubacar asked his father. For Karinka, the question is devastating. “I dare not tell my son that I don’t know. I rather assure and reassure him that it will happen. Because he trusts me, he believes whatever I tell him which puts me in a very difficult situation. The present situation of my son and buddy is torturing me. “

Please help us raise the $5400 to save Aboubacar’s sight and possibly his life. Share this appeal with your friends and on social media. Every contribution-- no matter how small-- will help.

Donations

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  • Anonymous 
    • $300 
    • 73 mos
  • Todd Jungenberg 
    • $50 
    • 73 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $40 
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    • $25 
    • 73 mos
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    • $50 
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Organizer

Margaret Jaworski 
Organizer
New York, NY
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