On Her Own Two Feet

Imagine being 27 years old and having never walked upright.  That was the plight of Mihret.  She had been born with a congenital knee dislocation in both legs that made it impossible for her to stand on her own two legs.  I saw her in the ER one day recently.  She came from Addis Ababa - the capital city five hours away.  And she had heard that our hospital was working miracles for people who had never walked.   Her entire life, Mihret had crawled on her hands and knees.  She wore flip-flops on her hands to protect them from the hot city pavement.

This is how Mihret got around her entire life.
This is how Mihret got around her entire life.

She was poor, and didn't even have enough money to get x-rays taken of both knees.  We worked out a deal so she could at least get the x-rays and talk to our orthopedic surgeon about treatment options.  Since birth, her dislocated knees had only flexed in the wrong direction, making it impossible to stand.  But Dr. Anderson saw her in the clinic and felt like if her knees could be fused, she could stand, and even walk with assistance.

She didn't have a penny to pay for such a surgery, but our Benevolent Fund covered her.

A week after admission, she underwent the first surgery on the left leg.  A complex procedure that lasted hours and involved putting a rod through her femur, bridging the distorted knee, and going into the tibia.  Mihret lost a lot of blood, an issue complicated by the fact that her blood type was O negative - the most rare type.  But she got transfused, and recovered for three weeks before having the right side done.  According to Dr. Anderson, "With the experience on the left side, we were able to do the right side without as much bleeding."

Just a few days after that, for the first time in her life, Mihret stood upright on her own two legs.

We have a weekly chapel service at the hospital on Wednesday morning that is attended by most of our hospital staff.  We gave Mihret the opportunity to attend chapel, but not just attend.  To walk down the center aisle.  Never before has our staff reacted to a patient's recovery like they did with her.  There was exuberant cheering and applause, and some of our staff cried as Mihret gave thanks to them and to God.   A day of rejoicing at Soddo Christian Hospital that will not soon be forgotten.

All of this was possible because of our Benevolent Fund.  And you can be a part!  We are actively recruiting donors to give on a recurring basis.  Right now, we are looking for 100 donors to pledge $100 per month for the next year, so that more like Mihret can get life-transforming treatment.  We are giving ourselves 100 days to find these donors.  Join the team today!

Soddo Snakes!

We want to introduce you to Jackson.  Jackson is nine years old, and lives in Oregon.  And he has a heart for Ethiopia.

Jackson with one of his creations.. the "Soddo Snake".
Jackson with one of his creations.. the "Soddo Snake".

Jackson heard about our hospital serving the poor in southern Ethiopia, and wanted to contribute to the cause.  He knits these adorable multipurpose snakes which he then sells as a fundraiser for US!  In the words of Jackson's mom Bethany on her blog, "The smaller snakes are perfect as toys or as special pets. The longer snakes can be wrapped around your neck like a scarf. Soddo Snakes enjoy being draped over your computer screen, placed in your bookshelf, or curled up and displayed in your home."

A sampling of Jackson's creations


We asked Jackson why he wanted to do this, and he replied, "I did it because I wanted to help the hospital in Soddo, Ethiopia. I read that they need help with food, and medicine and so I decided to make snakes and sell them for Soddo."  Isn't that great?  He reports that it takes him about 1-2 hours to make one, and the red yarn snakes are his favorite.

Jackson is giving every penny he earns from selling the snakes to the Benevolent Fund.  About this, he said, "I believe I will help at least one person to get what they need for a few days. One person is worth it because everyone should have what they need to live."

Don't you agree?  Way to go, Jackson!

To Walk Again

This is what a broken neck looks like:

About seven months ago, a 17-year old young man came to us after an injury.  What you see above is his actual x-ray.   He had been in a tree, and fallen quite a distance.  He had a fractured femur, but worse than that he had a broken neck that had caused paralysis.  He could not move his arms or legs, and only had some preserved sensation in his extremities.  We surgically repaired his leg and his neck, and he was in the hospital for one month recovering.  Sadly though, even at the time of his discharge, he was barely moving his fingers and toes.  We were unsure if he would ever walk again.

Recently, the young man returned for his follow-up.  Praise the Lord that he is now almost fully recovered.  He has almost full strength in his arms and hands, and can run on his own two legs.  A paralytic healed!  Here he is pictured below with Dr. Anderson.

The best part of the story is this.  This young man was quite poor.  He was unable to pay for his care.  But because of generous donors to the Benevolent Fund, his surgeries and post-operative care were paid in full.  Because people like you care enough to give, we were able to medically care for him.  By God's grace, he is healed and planning to return to school later this year.

Help us treat more patients like this!  Our Benevolent Fund relies on donors like you.  And 100% of every dollar goes to fund patient care.  We are looking for 100 donors to pledge $100 per month for the next year.  These funds will help us to cover the costs of our poorest patients.  You can set up a recurring gift through our secure site here.  God bless you!

What Will $100 Buy at Soddo Christian Hospital?

Getting lost in all the talk about Obamacare and health insurance?  Want to see some real information on what we can do with $100?

Soddo Christian Hospital is saving lives in southern Ethiopia, and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism and discipleship.  A hundred  bucks will go a long way in our hospital!  Here are a few examples:

  1. An appendectomy for $100??  You bet.  In the US, it costs around $30,000 to take out the old appendix.  But here, we do it for around $100.  This is a pretty common malady, especially among young people.  And it's a "bread-and-butter" surgery that our residents need to learn.
  2. Sometimes a surgery isn't needed.  We see a lot of pediatric patients that just need some antibiotics and to drink plenty of fluids.  They might have a mild pneumonia or a little gastrointestinal illness.  Also, we sit and talk with mom about what's going on.  (Doesn't sound novel, but in this culture, parents don't often get a lot of information about what's going on.)  In the US, just one trip to the doctor with your kid would cost $100.  But in Soddo, we can see about 20 patients for that.
  3. If admission to the hospital is required, we can do that.  We have over 100 beds for inpatient care of all types - pediatric, adult, medical, surgical, obstetric, and the list goes on.  In some countries, a hundred dollars wouldn't even pay for 3 hours of care.  At Soddo Christian Hospital, that will cover more than 3 days of inpatient care.
  4. Having a baby?  A hundred dollars will pay for a Cesarean section and the associated care... completely!  In the West, this would cost $5,000.  We can do 50 C-sections for that.  In this country, women die during childbirth due to inability to get a C-section.  Not long ago, an Ethiopian woman had a 1 in 15 chance of dying in childbirth.  Now, it's down to 1 in 67 because of improving health care.  (But still a long way from the rate in the US: 1 in 2,400).
  5. We are passionate about teaching.  We believe that medical mission hospitals have a duty to train the next generation of providers in the country they serve.  And we are doing just that.  We have residents and medical students working and learning at the hospital, and all being influenced by the Gospel during their time here.  For a hundred dollars, we can provide medical textbooks and learning materials for one of those residents to use.  That's the gift that keeps on giving.

We have begun our 100 for 100 campaign, and these are just a few examples of what that hundred bucks will buy!  We are looking for 100 donors to the hospital Benevolent Fund to cover costs of care for our poorest patients.  The pledge is 100 bucks a month for a year.   And you can rest assured that one hundred percent of your gift will go to fund patient care!


Mission Hospital Closes

Just two weeks ago, the Hospital Vozandes-Shell at the edge of the Amazon rainforest closed its doors forever.  Shell was a mission hospital that operated for 55 years, spreading the gospel and providing lifesaving treatment to the people of that area.  However, government-backed hospitals began to open in recent years.  This government-subsidized, even free health care became more desirable to the locals, and finally the hospital could no longer compete.

Without government subsidies, mission hospitals like ours (and Shell) are forced to charge higher prices if we are not subsidized in some other way.  Soddo Christian Hospital provides some of the finest and most specialized care in Ethiopia.  But we serve an incredibly poor population.  In order to provide care, we must have the support of donors.  Otherwise, they will be driven to public hospitals where the standard of care is much lower.  But worse than that, they won't hear the Gospel at those public hospitals.

Help us avoid the fate of Shell Hospital.  Help us to continue providing low cost but excellent care.  And doing it in the name of Jesus.  Every week, we have patients profess new faith in Christ.  Help us keep that going!

We are looking for 100 donors to pledge $100 a month for the next year.  Tell your friends, and sign up today!

100 Giving $100

100 giving 100


We need your help!  In the next 100 days, we want to find 100 donors to give $100 per month for a year!

The care at Soddo Christian Hospital is subsidized for our poorest patients.  We have a Benevolent Fund which offsets the cost, so that all patients receive the highest standard of care we can provide, without respect to their ability to pay.  Many amazing stories of physical and spiritual healing have taken place within this hospital because of the Benevolent Fund.  We post the stories on this blog as often as we can.  Read one such story here.

In order to make this subsidy available, we need donors for the Benevolent Fund.  We have set out to recruit 100 donors who would be willing to give $100 per month for the next year.  We can set up an ongoing, recurring donation using the link on our Donate page.

And you can give with confidence, because 96% of  your gift will go directly to patient care!  Please sign up today, and tell a friend.  Our goal is to find 100 such donors in the next 100 days.  Won't you help us?

Servers and Soddo

Take a look at these photos:

hospital tech

These are not things that you might be used to seeing in a mission hospital.  But the reality is that all hospitals, even mission hospitals, are getting on the technology bandwagon. We have a CT scanner that improves our diagnostics - allowing us to make more accurate diagnoses and provide better care.  We have a server room and a network that extends throughout the hospital campus.  That allows us to access internet and current treatment recommendations.  It gives us the ability to look at digital x-rays and CT images throughout the hospital.  And one day, it will allow for an electronic medical record to keep track of our patients.

The mission hospital of the 21st century is not what you thought!  We've got a lot of technology, and we've got to keep it all running.  If you are a network administrator, computer programmer, IT specialist - or if you know any - come and help us out!  We'd love to have you for a short term visit, or longer.  Contact us if you're interested.

A Modern Miracle

Tibial osteomyelitis
Tibial osteomyelitis

And Jesus replied to them, "Go and report to John the things you have seen and heard... The lame walk."  Luke 7:22

Osteomyelitis is a devastating condition that affects many in Ethiopia.  An infection sets in and literally destroys the bone.  Not long ago, we had a little girl come to us who suffered from osteomyelitis of the tibia.  Her x-ray is pictured to the right.

The tibia supports 85% of the weight in the leg.  In the x-ray, it is the large bone on the right.  (The other smaller bone in the leg is called the fibula, and cannot bear the child's weight alone.)  You can see that even after the infection is cleared by antibiotics, there is a large section of bone that is literally just gone.  This child could not run, walk, play, or any of that.  She was "lame" in the truest sense of the word.

St.ep 1: Putting the device on
St.ep 1: Putting the device on

What can be done?  There is an amazing technology called bone transport that allows us to heal this condition.   In the photo on the left, you can see that we apply a device (made by Orthofix) to the leg.  There is an external component that is adjustable, and the internal components are the screws that you see.  A cut is made in the bone between the uppermost set and the middle set of screws (you can just see the cut in the picture).  Then little by little, the external part of the device is adjusted, distracting the two pieces of bone.

Think of the top bone piece in the picture as the dock and the middle piece as the boat.  As the device is adjusted, the "boat" leaves the "dock" and begins to migrate down.  The adjustment is slow - 4 times per day, 1/4 mm per adjustment - to minimize pain.  As the little boat of bone moves southward at a rate of 1mm per day, it leaves a trail of bone dust in its wake.  From this bone dust, the body generates new healthy bone.

bone transport 2
Bone boat heading south

The next picture shows the distracted bone pieces after many days of incremental adjustments.  The bone dust is barely visible as a trail between the two.  It is here where the new bone is growing.  As the "boat" nears the "dock" on the other side, the adjustment becomes harder and harder to make.  This is the sign that the little piece of bone has arrived at the other "dock".  Then, a small piece of bone is taken from the hip and placed at this dock to stimulate the "boat" to fuse there.

The little girl spent some time in a cast while the new bone grew in and became strong enough to bear weight.  Now, she is healed and running around and playing on that leg.  Below, she is pictured with our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Duane Anderson.    Dr. Anderson spends a long time with these patients and their families, as they are in the hospital for many weeks and months for this procedure.  He shares not just his orthopedic expertise, but also how they can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We are thrilled to see these patients walk again, but more than anything, we rejoice to see them put their faith and trust in Christ.

The patient with Dr. Anderson
The patient with Dr. Anderson



You Can Put St.ock In Us!

Would you like to gift stock to Soddo Christian Hospital?  We can accept it!

St.ock gifts are a great way to donate funds to patient care.  The Foundation  receives the full current value of the stock, and the donor avoids capital gains taxes.  How does it work?

Well, if the securities have been held for more than one year and are donated directly to the Foundation, the donor is able to deduct the full fair market value of the securities.  And capital gains taxes are avoided.  On the other hand, if the securities are sold first and then the proceeds are given, the donor still has to pay capital gain taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.  A little planning in this area can help you take full advantage of the tax benefits allowed by the government.

Got some stock to donate?  Contact us at info@soddo.org for more information on how to make the donation?

The Ambulance Is Here!

ambulance2A few months ago, we posted the project for an ambulance and the need.  Well, God answered our prayers, and provided the funds and now, the ambulance!

Just today, the new Landcruiser ambulance was driven down from Addis and on to our hospital grounds by our own chief administrator, Ato Desalegn.  Here is Desalegn pictured with Pastor Daniel, the head of our spiritual ministries, by the new ambulance.  He even fired up the siren as he pulled on campus to let everyone know.

There's a lot of excitement here around our newest addition.  In Ethiopia, there are no municipal-backed EMS systems.  So having an ambulance is really key for hospitals.  It will allow us to transfer and go pick up sick patients.   From time to time, we have had really sick patients who required a specialized operation or procedure only available in Addis Ababa.  Before, we had no way to get them there, and some of these patients died.  Now, we will be able to take them in our new ambulance.

An ambulance really legitimizes us in the eyes of the people of this area too.  People know they will be cared for here, and if for some reason we need to transfer them, now we can!

Thanks to so many of you who helped us reach this goal.  We thank God for you!