Hearing Help For Africa

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Advancing hearing and restoring hope in Africa.

Patient Testimonial: Samuel Ochenehi

Listen to the story of a kind, endearing and passionate man named Samuel Ochenehi. Samuel Ochenehi is a patient we have had the honor of knowing for several years now. He is a father to 2 beautiful children and husband to his wife, Messe. Sam received his cochlear implant from Dr. Green in 2012. He is currently a resident at Jos University Teaching Hospital and is pursuing his dream to help others with hearing loss. Sam was in his second year as a medical student when, in January of 2006, he took ill with fever and lost his hearing. “I felt hopeless. That I wouldn’t be able to complete my schooling”, he told us. Though his grades proved his knowledge, the school was not going to let him graduate due to his hearing loss. This caused deep discouragement in his life until he heard a lecture about Cochlear implants and the work that Dr. Green was doing in Africa. Sam talked with Nigerian physician, Dr. Adoga about what he had heard and soon began emailing with Dr. Green. Sam traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to receive his Cochlear implant and his life was transformed. He told us, “Before I was in isolation but now it has helped me both academically and socially.” He said, “I am so grateful for Dr. Green because without him maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Motivated by his gratitude and experience, Sam has chosen to pursue ENT in hopes to do the same in bringing hearing help to others. It is stories like Samuel’s that encourage us when we think about the future of Africa. His zeal and heart to give back will carry on the mission for providing hearing help for Africa.

Patient Testimonial: Emmanuel Michael

Please read this patient testimonial of a man whose powerful story has impacted many. Emmanuel Michael “God saved my life” 31 years old From Delta State and now lives in Jos Married with a 2-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl.   Emmanuel described himself as a “street boy” as his family moved to Delta State after his father retired from the military in Lagos, Nigeria. Emmanuel worked in a bakery. On December 7, 2004, the oven that He was working from exploded. A hot pipe went through his face, jaw to the eye socket, and laid him down on top of the hot oven causing burns across his torso. “They were trying to abandon me in the hospital”, Emmanuel told us. Doctors had unanimously decided that he would not survive and they should let him die. Dr. Joel Anthis, however, provided the means for him to stay in the hospital. After 3 months of being unconscious, he began to move. A year and a half later he was able to walk out of the hospital, discharged and able to fully embrace life. A true miracle in which he gives God glory. He powerfully stated, “I didn’t think I was vital for society but God showed me he has a purpose for my life”. Initially, in his recovery, he felt he was no longer of value because of his scars from this tragic accident. Others even told his wife she would not want to marry him because of the changes in his appearance. Yet they were married in 2009. They named their son after Dr. Anthis as a testament to what God has done in his life. Emmanuel now enjoys playing basketball with his son, works in the laundry at BHUTH and is studying at Ecwa Technology School with hopes to pursue work in IT. He feels a calling on his life to share his testimony and encourage others. Before the accident, Emmanuel said that he wanted to move to America and be like celebrities. He says that now “God has opened my eyes to see there is nothing in this world”. His joy is in the Lord alone.

HHA Trip 2019: Day Six

This week our doctors have performed many life-changing surgeries such as cochlear implants and tympanoplasty procedures. They have brought relief to many with ear pain and medical needs. They have celebrated with patients who smile big when their hearing aids have been turned on for the first time. We even had the opportunity for an early activation for Susan’s cochlear implant. She was excited to hear the chime of her phone! Another important thing that has been happening throughout the trip has been investing in the future of Nigeria. We have had the opportunity to teach medical staff and students that will continue and carry on with providing hearing help for Africa. Dr. Green and Dr. Wood have held classes on hearing problems and treatments as well as a class in Cochlear implants and one class on the temporal bone. Our physician assistant and audiologists have also had the opportunity to teach at both BHUTH (Evangel Hospital) and JUTH (Teaching Hospital). Understanding and advocacy for hearing loss needs in Africa have been rising. A radio broadcast interviewed Dr. Green. This interview was broadcasted throughout all of Nigeria and brought in several journalists asking questions about what we are doing and about solutions to hearing problems. On an additional mission, our team member, Wink Cherry, has been pouring into coaches this week. Sports ministry brings much positivity and light to the youth in Nigeria. Coaches are in a prime position to walk alongside athletes, encouraging and empowering them not only as a team but in their lives as well. Wink spent the week training coaches who will impact the youth in Nigeria. In building up youth, the future of the country is impacted in a very positive way. We care about the future of this country and are proud to see individuals who step up in leadership and are becoming life changers in Nigeria.  

HHA Trip 2019: Day Five

We left a little early today from clinic to visit some very special people. The team went to orphanages today to love on the little ones as well as their caregivers. One of the orphanages was for “Internally Displaced Persons”, meaning they are refugees in their own country. Looking into their little eyes and caring for them, even for just a little while was a moving experience for our team. We gave lots of hugs and high fives. We played soccer with the balls we brought for them. It was heart-wrenching to have to leave them behind as the van drove away. We also visited an orphanage for teenage girls. They sang a song for us that they wrote together and it was beautiful! We shared our names with them, which they were tickled by, and heard theirs. Dr. Green asked them to share their dreams with us and we were all so impressed by their maturity and the beauty in their answers. We got a chance to share a few words of encouragement with the group and spent time laughing with them, as teen girls love to do. This evening we enjoyed dinner together in Peter Fratheim’s home, SIM ministry leader. It’s mango season in Nigeria and we enjoyed some freshly prepared mango and watermelon with our dinner. It was a refreshing meal after a long day.  

HHA TRIP 2019: Day Four

You would love Susan and her husband! Susan is a 38-year-old wife and mother with profound hearing loss living in Jos, Nigeria. Today Susan underwent surgery and did very well! In a cochlear implant counseling session yesterday, Susan and her husband were presented with the opportunity to receive a cochlear implant. They had to decide if they would move forward with the surgery happening the following day. When Susan and her husband learned that they had enough money in their bank account to afford what is normally a very expensive operation, Susan immediately sprung from her chair and straight to her knees. Her hands were raised high and tears were flowing with gratitude. Her husband followed her with the same thankful spirit. “I have a two-year-old baby. I cannot hear my baby cry”, Susan told us. Her momma’s heart was very evident. She was so relieved, thankful and excited for what life will look like for her from now on. In the clinic, it was another busy day seeing patients. Our team is working hard to help provide treatment for many patients in need. After clinic was over, we enjoyed a Nigerian meal at the home of Dr. Ben Babson, a physician at BHUH (evangel hospital). Our team is continually humbled by the very kind hospitality we find here in Nigeria.

HHA Trip 2019: Day Three

Today began with a course at BHUTH (evangel hospital) taught by Donna Smith, PA. She presented a lecture on neurotology, anatomy/physiology, vertigo, and Meniere’s Disease to a group of Nigerian doctors, nurses and medical students who had come to learn. At the clinic today, the waiting room was overflowing with patients to be evaluated. Dr. Elizabeth Selle and Dr. Ryan Funderburk tested and fit many patients for hearing aids while Donna Smith, PA saw patients for medical visits. Dr. Green’s Cochlear Implant operation on five-year-old Boniface went very well today. Boniface’s family is thrilled and very grateful for this life-changing day! Fuki, a 14-year-old girl and her family told us that she had inhaled a “pin” two weeks ago. Her scans showed that the item was lodged deep in her bronchial tube. In the hospital, she had been sharing a room with a child who had the exact same medical issue. That child, whom Fuki had befriended, went into surgery for the doctors to remove the pin and did not survive. Given what this little girl had seen and experienced we were amazed at her courage to undergo this operation herself. Today Dr. Mark Wood performed the surgery on this patient. An originally heavy hearted Operating Room applauded and cheered when, in a miracle, the pin was seamlessly removed from her body! The item that was removed was not a straight pin as everyone had imagined, but a “thumbtack” lodged in her bronchial tube. The entire room was in awe. In the recovery room, this sweet young lady couldn’t stop crying and thanking Dr. Wood for saving her life. She will go back to school and share this testimony with her friends.    

HHA Trip 2019: Day Two

What a beautiful African morning! Today we had the honor of worshipping with ECWA Gospel 2 Church. The hospitality we encountered with all those we met was a humbling experience. Their joyful songs, generosity and steadfast faith encouraged our team. Later this afternoon Dr. Green, Dr. Wood and Donna Smith, PA saw many patients at Bringham University Teaching Hospital (BHUTH). There is an overwhelming need and many patients were waiting when we arrived. Several had traveled far just to be seen. This initial day at the clinic set the stage for a week of surgeries, hearing aid fittings and more. But even greater, a week of communicating value and hope to patients and our newfound friends in Nigeria.

HHA Trip 2019: Day One

A mission team has arrived in Jos, Nigeria! We are a group of nine, including several from Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute (JHBI). Our day began at the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast alongside Pastor Ukubu, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria; David Young, Deputy Chief of Mission; and Stuart Symington, US Ambassador. How powerful it was for our team to get to hear from these amazing men. We admire their hearts for this country’s people and were moved by their contagious passion. What a perfect way to begin our trip as we seek to love, care for and provide hearing help to this city. After breakfast, we made a drive down to Jos. We snapped photos and took in the beauty and culture of Nigeria. Now safely settled into the Baptist Guest House, we are anticipating with excitement what this week will hold.  

Temporal bone lab brings hearing hope to Africa

Like many aspects of life in West Africa, otolaryngology training is difficult. Unlike the U.S., where most otolaryngology residency programs have facilities to teach temporal bone anatomy and dissection, West Africa until recently has had only a single two-station lab located in Lagos, Nigeria. As a result, basic otologic procedures such as tympanoplasty and mastoidectomy are rarely taught to residents and are only sporadically available. Read Full Article »

Return to Nigeria: Part II

In the fall of 2013, Dr. Green and a few of his staff from Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute returned (or went for the first time!) to Nigeria to check up on their patients and train the medial community in Jos. In Part I, Dr. Green explained more about the work his team is doing. In this Q&A post with Dr. Green, learn about the cultural differences his team encountered. Q: What is a major difference, medically, than in the United States? A: There’s a lot of ignorance even within the medical community. For instance, in Nigeria, after you graduate from medical school, you go to a village and provide medical care for a year. You’re fresh out of medical school and doing some fairly advanced types of things, and that’s tough to do. And basically, there’s no medical liability, so people often end up doing things in a way that perhaps isn’t right. Q: What is a major difference, culturally, than in the United States? A: We saw things that most people don’t realize actually happen. We call them these, oh, my, moments. You slap yourself in the face and think, did I really see that? For instance, we were driving from the capitol to Jos and we saw this guy who had just part of a cow hooked on with bungee cords to his motorcycle, including the tail. It’s seems strange, disgusting even, to us, and we think, oh my goodness. But that’s what you see sometimes. Stuff like that. Q: How do you see the communities working together in Nigeria? A: People help each other out there. They don’t save their money for retirement, they don’t put it in the bank; they give it to one another. People go to their friends and raise money for these surgeries. Nigeria is an interesting place; you just don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. But the people are some of the most grateful folks I’ve ever seen, and that’s rewarding. It’s very humbling how grateful they are.