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Kathleen Howard with F.O.C.O.S.

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | September 25th, 2014

Recently I traveled to Accra, Ghana to volunteer with FOCOS to help correct severe scoliosis deformities. As cliché as it may sound, this trip honestly changed my life forever and I will always be grateful for this opportunity provided to me by Biotronic.

Dr. Rick Hodes is an American physician who now lives in Ethiopia and refers the majority of the patients to FOCOS. You can see the actual patient’s pictures and curves we did during my two weeks on his website’s homepage: rickhodes.org

**Rick Hodes also has an absolutely amazing story of volunteering in Ethiopia as a U.S. doctor and deciding to never come back. He ended up living in Ethiopia for 26 years, adopting 12 children, and houses nearly 50-60 kids. He is a published author and was also featured on a documentary on HBO.  

FOCOS (Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine) is an organization created by Dr. Boachie. Dr. Boachie was born and raised in Ghana and after attending U.S. medical school and becoming a world renowned scoliosis surgeon in New York, he built a hospital in Ghana. Children and adults from all around the world travel to this hospital to have scoliosis corrective surgery. The facilities and healthcare at FOCOS are at American standards and are being ran/trained by some of the absolute best healthcare professionals. Surgeons from around the world volunteer for a week at a time in efforts to complete the most cases at the highest efficiency. Needless to say, it was an absolute once in a lifetime experience to work with these insanely talented yet generous people day in and day out. We ended up doing 30 cases in just 10 OR days with changes on roughly 80% of the cases. Changes varied in causes from retraction to distraction to osteotomies to hypotension or a combination of two. One case was a young boy from Sierra Leone who had over a 200 degree curve.

I also had a wonderful opportunity to go to Cape Coast which is a local fishing town but also has a famous slave castle, a suspension bridge through the jungle, and an opportunity to feed and pet wild crocodiles. I believe that anyone that has been to Ghana can agree the culture there is completely life changing. To my biggest surprise, everyone hugs or shakes your hand every single morning. No matter if you worked with them 14 hours the day before, you were always greeted with a huge smile and a loud “how are you!?” It was so refreshing that surgeons, patients, even strangers greeted and treated each other with such love and respect. The people of Ghana are full of love, respect, and kindness. I would recommend this trip to anyone that is interested as it will change you in ways words cannot describe.

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