“It has been difficult for my wife to support our family alone over the past year,” says Julius, a 37-year-old man who lives with his wife and two young children in Kenya.
“Julius first began having back problems in 2009,” our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), tells us. “His limbs often become numb, and he cannot bend or lift anything. If not treated, Julius could suffer permanent nerve damage, and this might render him disabled.”
Julius has a condition known as spinal disc prolapse, commonly known as a slipped disc or herniated disc. Spinal discs sit between adjacent bones (vertebrae) of the spine. When the fibrous outer covering of the disc weakens, the gel-like core expands and contacts a nerve from the spinal cord, causing pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the legs.
Julius has not been able to work as a driver since last year because of his condition. To support the family, his wife farms arrowroot to sell and use at home and also works on other farms for additional income.
Doctors recommend surgery—laminectomy, discectomy, and spinal fusion—to cut away a portion of the vertebrae and the prolapsed disc and join the adjacent vertebrae. With $1,500, Julius can undergo back surgery and receive 10 days of hospital care and physiotherapy. “We expect that after treatment and recovery,” says AMHF, “Julius will no longer be in pain or suffer numbness. He will be able work again.”
“I hope to get well soon so that I can work again and provide for my family,” says Julius.