humedica individual case aid: 17-year old girl from Ethiopia treated in Germany

by Samuel Vincent/SRI, 2011/08/18

Amen is 17 years old. She comes from Ethiopia. Due to a complicated angioma in her spinal cord and a therefore limited nervous function, Amen had to live with substantial constrictions in everyday life.

A more detailed examination including a minor intervention in Germany were necessary in order to diagnose the extent of damage. After several weeks of waiting, Amen travelled to Germany at the end of July. Shortly before she returned to her come country, we had the possibility of meeting Amen.

17-year old Amen suffers from an angioma in her spinal cord. Photo: humedica/Samuel Vincent

When we met Amen for the interview, she was happy. After spending six days at hospital, undergoing many examinations and living in an unfamiliar environment, she finally was almost on her flight back home.

Before the journey, she had not really had any particular expectations regarding Germany and therefore she probably experienced several surprises. "The food was completely different from food in Ethiopia and it took getting used to", she said laughing. "But the people here were very nice, above all the hospital staff."

Although the language posed some barriers, she had nevertheless been able to communicate fairly well. "I can imagine learning German someday, so that I’ll be able to talk directly to all the nice people at hospital."

Actually, the reason for her to travel to Germany was a sad one. A complicated angioma in her spinal cord had caused her many serious problems, with walking difficulties still being the least of the problems in this context.

In order to diagnose the degree of damage, the Chairman of the Board of the Bezirkskliniken Schwaben (District Hospitals of Swabia), Mr. Thomas Düll, had offered humedica to admit Amen for free at the Günzburg Hospital.

After spending one week at the Department of Neurology and one minor intervention, it is now clear that Amen will need regular controls and targeted treatment all her life long in order to prevent her from suffering from paraplegia as a final secondary effect of the angioma.

Despite this prognosis and the two exhausting weeks, Amen seemed to be surprisingly fit. "I am looking forward to going home and I'll do everything in my power to make sure I'll have a future", she said before her departure. "One day I'd like to found an orphanage in Ethiopia and help children the way I was helped."

We promised Amen to thank all the people who supported her during her stay in Germany. Then we took leave of the brave young woman who only a short time later was on her way back home to Addis Abeba. Taking along with her: the memories of strange food, nice people and a lot of hope.

Saying goodbye full of gratitude: Amen is going back home. Photo: humedica/Samuel Vincent

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