Conscience International Team Returns to Ethiopia And Discovers a Medical Surprise

In 2015 a Conscience International medical team led by Dr. Ted Belanger and his wife Toni from the Texas Back Institute, near Dallas, returned to Ethiopia for yet another challenging few weeks conducting a number of spinal surgeries that returned full lives to many afflicted young people. But at least one young lady did not have the perfect outcome they had hoped for—or did she?

Operation in Progress led by Dr. Theodore Belanger of Conscience International’s Ethiopia Spinal Surgery Project, Addis Ababa May 24, 2016
Team members included, front row left to right: Dr. Shay Bess, Chief of Adult Spinal Deformity and Director of Spinal Deformity Research at NYU Langone Medical Center's Hospital for Joint Diseases; Toni Belanger; Dr. Theodore Belanger, Lauren Kennedy, University of Alabama. Back row: Vinoth Sivapatham of the Stryker Corporation, Walter Evans of Medtronic, Jason Curtis of Texas Back Institute, Lucy Meredith of DePuy Synthes.

Her name is Etamarym. She came to the clinic in 2015 with no movement or sensation in her legs. After surgery she had sensation but still no mobility; she was paralyzed from the waist down. The team returned to Texas when their work time for the year ended, disappointed, and not sure Etamarym would ever experience movement or walk again.

But when the medical group returned to Ethiopia in May, 2016, Etamarym surprised everyone—she walked into the clinic! Surely a miracle. She had lost weight, but she was walking on her own, and so grateful.

“It was the most amazing thing that I have ever seen. I am so thankful to be able to be a part of that miracle,” said Lauren Kennedy, the Belanger’s daughter who was making her second trip to Ethiopia to assist and report from the medical team’s base.

These volunteer medical trips are bringing miracle life changes to so many thanks to donations to the spinal surgeries being performed here each year. It is exhausting work, with doctors, nurses, and assistants working as late as midnight often performing twelve hours of non-stop surgery, bringing much of their own medical equipment and supplies to a country that cannot afford all that is necessary.

“This trip has been life changing. We have met so many people who have devoted their lives to these kinds of missions,” Lauren concludes.

You, too, can help restore health, happiness, and a future for many people of Ethiopia who were born with spinal deformities. By donating to Conscience International you help return young people to productive lives through the volunteer efforts of Dr. Belanger and his surgical teams who make annual trips to Ethiopia to perform corrective surgeries.  All contributions are tax deductible.

Please donate here.