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Whitney is a newborn baby from Kenya who needs $1,097 to fund spina bifida closure surgery.

  • $210 raised, $887 to go
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May 31, 2017

Meet Whitney, a three-week-old baby girl from Kenya.

Whitney has been diagnosed with spina bifida, a medical condition where there is an incomplete formation of the spine, leaving the spinal cord exposed. Whitney is unable to feed properly, and her limbs are weak. Left untreated, Whitney is at risk of developing an infection, paralysis on her lower limb, and tethered spinal cord syndrome.

Whitney’s parents brought her to a hospital associated with our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), to seek specialized treatment. AMHF has scheduled Whitney for spina bifida closure surgery on June 2. The total cost of Whitney’s medical bill is $1,097.

Whitney’s parents share with AMHF that they are hopeful their daughter will receive the help she needs.

Meet Whitney, a three-week-old baby girl from Kenya. Whitney has been diagnosed with spina bifida, a medical condition where there is an...

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Whitney's Timeline

Funded by 11 donors

Funded by 11 donors

Spina Bifida Closure
  • Cost Breakdown
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
On average, it costs $1,097 for Whitney's treatment
Hospital Fees
Medical Staff
  • Symptoms
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Cultural or regional significance

​What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?

The patient has a mass or lesion on the back that leaks cerebral spinal fluid, which puts him or her at risk of infection.

​What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?

Spina bifida can cause incontinence, bladder and kidney damage, and paralysis and numbness in the lower limbs, bladder, and sphincter. It can also lead to hydrocephalus as a result of disturbance to the fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus can lead to cognitive dysfunction, blindness, and death.

What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?

Spina bifida is more common in developing countries due to improper and inadequate nutrition. Foods containing folic acid are scarce, and food is not fortified. In Kenya, however, the Ministry of Health has recently started a program to give expectant mothers folic acid for free at government facilities.

  • Process
  • Impact on patient's life
  • Risks and side-effects
  • Accessibility
  • Alternatives

What does the treatment process look like?

After surgery, the patient's hospital stay ranges from two days to three weeks. The length of stay depends on the healing rate of the wound and will be extended if the patient also undergoes a shunt insertion to treat hydrocephalus. However, shunt insertions are usually performed about one month after this surgery. The patient is continually monitored. If the wound heals and the patient is in a neurologically stable condition, the surgery is considered successful.

What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?

Surgery performed within the first days of a child’s life prevents infection and saves the spine and brain from further damage. Early surgery also minimizes the risk of paralysis. Later treatment may save the child's life and prevent further damage.

What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?

This surgery is moderately risky, and complications depend on the severity of the case.

How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?

There are few quality care centers in the region. Hospitals lack adequate resources and expertise to treat this condition. With about one neurosurgeon per 10,000,000 people in East Africa, initial treatment for spina bifida is often unavailable.

What are the alternatives to this treatment?

Surgery is the primary option for most types of spina bifida.