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Success! Sabbath from Kenya raised $805 for treatment of spina bifida.

  • $805 raised, $0 to go
to go
Fully funded
Sabbath's treatment was fully funded on August 12, 2016.

Photo of Sabbath post-operation

August 30, 2016

Sabbath received successful treatment for spina bifida.

Sabbath’s surgery to close the open mass on his back was successful. It has minimized the risk of infections and tethered cord that can cause malformation of the spine.

“On behalf of our family, we thank you for your kindness, efficiency, and thoughtfulness for my son’s well-being,” Sabbath’s mother shared.

Sabbath’s surgery to close the open mass on his back was successful. It has minimized the risk of infections and tethered cord that can caus...

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July 18, 2016

Less than one month old, Sabbath is the youngest of five children in his family in Kenya. He was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which several vertebrae in the lower back do not close properly, leaving his spinal canal exposed.

Sabbath has a swollen mass on his lower back. The mass—which contains a portion of his spinal cord that protrudes through the opening in his backbone—is open and leaking cerebrospinal fluid. If untreated, Sabbath is at risk of infection. In addition, he may develop a tethered cord if the exposed spinal cord attaches to other tissues in the lower back. A tethered cord can cause curvature of his spine as he grows.

Sabbath’s parents were advised to seek specialized treatment for Sabbath when he was born, but they cannot afford Sabbath’s surgical care. His mother stays at home, and his father is a fisherman who earns just enough to sustain the basic needs of the family.

Treatment for Sabbath is spina bifida closure surgery. Doctors will place the spinal cord and nerves back inside the backbone and cover them with membranes before closing the opening on Sabbath’s back.

$805 pays for Sabbath’s surgery. Funding also covers the costs of a five-day hospital stay, three days of physical therapy, imaging, lab work, and medicine. A well-wisher offered to pay for the family’s transportation to BethanyKids Kijabe Hospital for the surgery.

Sabbath’s mother looks forward to a successful surgery for her son. “I had to hide [him] from people in my village as they all wanted to see the swelling,” she shares. “I am glad to have [come] to a place [where] he can be treated, and I am longing to see him well.”

Less than one month old, Sabbath is the youngest of five children in his family in Kenya. He was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in w...

Read more

Sabbath's Timeline

  • July 18, 2016

    Sabbath was submitted by Joan Kadagaya, Curative Medical Support Program-Partner Representative at African Mission Healthcare.

  • July 18, 2016

    Sabbath received treatment at BethanyKids Kijabe Hospital (BKKH) in Kenya. Medical partners often provide care to patients accepted by Watsi before those patients are fully funded, operating under the guarantee that the cost of care will be paid for by donors.

  • August 10, 2016

    Sabbath's profile was published to start raising funds.

  • August 12, 2016

    Sabbath's treatment was fully funded.

  • August 30, 2016

    Sabbath's treatment was successful. Read the update.

Funded by 24 donors

Funded by 24 donors

Spina Bifida Closure
  • Diagnosis
  • Procedure
  • 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.

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.


Peace is a farmer along with her husband. Together they have two children: their first born is 31 years old while their second born is 17 years old and is in secondary school class one. Peace shared that they have always worked hard to raise the fees for their children's schooling. This has become more difficult as six years ago, Peace began to experience troubling symptoms, including a gradually increasing anterior neck swelling. She was diagnosed with non-toxic goitre. She had visited her mother who noticed something on her neck and told her to get it checked out. The swelling was small and painless at that time but as time went on, the swelling progressively started increasing in size. She resorted to using herbs but this did not help. She is very much worried about what could come out of it in future if not treated on time. A friend recently got treatment at Rushoroza Hospital and her surgery was successful, so Peace felt encouraged and hopeful to visit. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is now helping Peace receive treatment. She is scheduled to undergo a thyroidectomy on January 6th at our medical partner's care center. Surgeons will remove all or part of her thyroid gland. This procedure will cost $333, and she and her family need help raising money. Peace says, “I hope to get relieved of the goitre and its complications through surgery. I would wish to live a healthy life again. I hope to comfortably keep farming after treatment.”

7% funded

$308to go

Meet another patient you can support

100% of your donation funds life-changing surgery.