When Rachidi first arrived on board for surgery, he was a shy, quiet and hesitant boy. But over time as he recovered from surgery, playing games with the nurses and getting to know the other patients, he transformed into a friendly, talkative - and sometimes mischievous - teenager. He picked up English quickly and was eager strike up a conversation with anyone he came across in the hospital corridors. His surgeon, Dr Tertius, witnessed not only a physical change but a personal one too. ‘‘Every time that touches me when I see a child’s life just change like that,’ he says. ‘Because it’s not only that moment that’s changing, their whole future has changed.’
Rachidi suffered from a severe contracture of the leg that was the result of a farm-related burns injury. All of Rachidi’s siblings passed away at an early age, and as the only living child of the family, there’s a great responsibility on Rachidi to care and provide for his ageing parents. Rachidi’s burns contracture stood in the way of job opportunities - not only was his mobility greatly reduced, his abnormal appearance put a barrier between him and other people. “I feel sad and unhappy.,’ Rachidi said. ’The way my leg looks makes me ashamed.”
Rachidi was operated on by plastic surgeon Dr Tertius Venter, who released the contracture restoring Rachidi’s ability to place all of the sole of his foot on the ground, giving him the chance to walk normally again. The success of the procedure relied heavily on intensive post-surgery physiotherapy, and this is something that Rachidi excelled at. His determination was evident from the first session, and he made great progress.
On board, the Africa Mercy Rachidi underwent a great transformation, and he continues to develop into a confident young man with new opportunities ahead of him.
Header: Patient Rachidi