Joseph was born in Tanzania just four days ago! Joseph’s family works as small-scale farmers, selling maize and beans. Joseph’s mother also sells bananas at the local open market for supplemental income.
Joseph was born with myelomeningocele, a type of spina bifida, as well as hydrocephalus, which involves cerebrospinal fluid buildup within the brain. Myelomeningocele is a defect in which a part of the spinal cord protrudes out of the body through an opening in the back. Thus, Joseph is currently living with a lesion on his lower back that is continuously leaking cerebrospinal fluids into various part of his body, including his brain. If left untreated, this leakage can lead to infection, muscle weakness, or paralysis.
If the fluid reaches the brain, it can eventually cause blindness, seizures, or brain damage. Often times myelomeningocele can also result in a loss of sensation, particularly in the feet or legs, because the nerves in the spinal column fail to function properly.
For only $1,100, doctors will be able to move Joseph’s exposed spinal cord back inside of his body and cover it with muscle and skin. This procedure will prevent the cerebrospinal fluid leakage, reduce Joseph’s risk of infection or any further complications, and allow him to live a healthy newborn life.
Joseph’s mother was scared when she became aware of Joseph’s condition. Her family’s small agricultural business does not make enough money to pay for a spina bifida treatment and her third child, born only a year earlier, had the same condition as Joseph and passed away after birth.
“I just pray that my son will survive and grow like the rest of my children,” says Joseph’s mother.