Damien Foundation Nigeria
When amputation appears inevitable, Damien Foundation funds the surgery. This is also the case in the remote leprosy camp in Ogbomoso, a city in the state of Oyo in south-western Nigeria. Damien Foundation funds the medical care and runs the operating theatre there. In addition to amputations the surgeons carry out operations to prevent disabilities and blindness. Leprosy patients come for these operations from all over the country: the 'golden hands' of Doctor Amole are well-known throughout the provinces. Doctor Amole trained as a reconstructive surgeon in India and is the only surgeon in Nigeria to offer a surgical solution for claw hand and foot drop (two problems which leprosy patients often face), through which patients regain the use of their hands and feet. Teacher Mohammed is from Lagos and was infected 20 years ago. Leprosy left him with foot drop, after which he could barely raise his foot and found it extremely difficult to walk. Mohammed is now making a full recovery from his operation on his own, while his family is far away, but it doesn't bother him. “At last I can walk normally again”, he says beaming with joy. His cure was due to a tendon transposition: a functioning tendon is detached and relocated, so that the foot can be raised again. Ajbenjor, a 70-year-old leprosy patient who lives in the camp, has also had an operation. Ajbenjor was no longer able to close his eyes and ran the risk of catching an infection and going blind. “I removed a muscle from the thigh and attached that to the muscle used for biting. So that now Ajbenjor can close his eyes by making a biting movement.” Ajbenjor does not really understand the explanation, but is overjoyed with the surgery. Now, at least, he will be able to watch his granddaughter, who visits now and again, grow for a few more years.
TEXTS: Wendy Huyghe
PHOTOS: Tim Dirven @T.Dirven for Damien Foundation