ETHIOPIA MEDICAL PROJECT
Give Straight Backs 3rd Annual Charity event presents
"Alice in Wonderland"
Come as your favorite Alice in Wonderland character!
Professional photo at check in
50/50 Cash Raffle
RSVP with Toni 704.728.9367
About our charity:
The Ethiopia Project was born in 2010, when Dr. Theodore Belanger was introduced to the MyungSung Christian Medical Center (“MCM”) in Addis Ababa by Dr. Phil Meinhardt. At that time, Dr. Meinhardt was a spine fellow in training under Dr. Belanger in Charlotte, NC. At the end of Dr. Meinhardt’s fellowship training, he and Dr. Belanger went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a fact-finding visit. There, Dr. Belanger met Dr. Don Pearson, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Orlando, FL who moved to Ethiopia with his retired school-teacher wife, Barbara. They had moved there on a long-term mission to help begin an orthopedic surgery training program in Ethiopia at MCM. Dr. Pearson, in turn, introduced Dr. Meinhardt and Dr. Belanger to Dr. Rick Hodes during that visit.
Dr. Hodes (www.rickhodes.org) is an internal medicine doctor who was trained at Johns Hopkins and moved to Ethiopia in the late 1980s as a Fulbright scholar. Since then, he has served as medical director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and is a senior medical consultant at Mother Theresa’s Hospital in Addis Ababa. He has adopted 5 Ethiopian kids that needed complex surgery so that he could get them on his health insurance and get them the surgery they needed. He has been the subject of at least 3 documentaries, 2 books and numerous articles. He was named City of Dallas Citizen of the Year, and also the Texas Citizen of the Year in 2005. He has been the ABC Person of the Week in 2010, and was a finalist for the CNN Hero Award in 2007. He has done countless guest lectureships, authored a book and many book chapters, has several academic appointments and has at least 4 honorary doctorate degrees. He supervises volunteers annually that assist in the organization of all of the patient care he provides. As part of the many things he has done in his role as a doctor in Ethiopia, he has built a program that accepts patients in need of complex spine and heart surgery. In the first year, they had 40 new patients referred to the program. Most of the spine patients referred to the program would have otherwise been referred for surgery in Ghana by Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei (Dr. Boachie), or to the US. Similarly, many other patients referred to the program would have otherwise been referred to centers in Europe or India. Over 500 spine surgeries have been done through Dr. Hodes’ program since 2006. If these patients had their surgery in the US, the estimated cost would be over $85 million. By having their surgery through the program, in conjunction with a great deal of financial support as well as donated equipment, effort and expertise, these patients’ surgeries were accomplished at roughly 10% of that expense. In the first year of the program, Dr. Hodes’ program gathered 20 spine patients and 11 surgeries were done. In 2014, over 400 new patients were collected, and 75 patients had surgery. In 2015, we anticipated over 500 new patients and 200 surgeries. Since we started as of May 2018 we have preformed over 130 surgeries.
Dr. Belanger began to do surgery in Ethiopia for Dr. Hodes and his patients in 2012 on annual visits to MCM. Dr. Belanger’s portion of the program has gradually grown each year, with generous help from volunteers and donated equipment from hospitals and spinal implant companies, like Medtronic. Between 2012 and 2018, over130 patients from Ethiopia were able to avoid the trip to Ghana and have their surgery by Dr. Belanger and his team right in Addis Ababa, often allowing for friends and family to be with the patients at their bedside. This project not only saves these patients from the burden of travel to Ghana without their family, but also saves Dr. Hodes’ program a great deal of money. When a patient must go to Ghana, Dr. Hodes has to budget about $18,000-$22,500 per patient for the travel, recovery and cost of surgery. If the same patient can have their surgery in Ethiopia, the cost is approximately $2,000-2,500, or roughly 10% of the cost. If the estimated savings is $20,000 per patient times 60 patients, that is an approximate savings of about $1.2 million for Dr. Hodes’ program, increasing the number of patients in need that can be helped by Dr. Hodes’ efforts.
In October 2015, 2 of Dr. Hodes’ patients were brought to Texas, and had surgery by Dr. Belanger at the Medical Center of Plano. Dr. Hodes was able to deliver the 2 patients to the US. They stayed with a volunteer host family until they were admitted to the hospital. Their surgeries were both very successful, and the story received media attention, including 3 news stories on Channel 8 WFAA news and a front page story in the Plano Star Courier. These surgeries were possible due to a tremendous coordination of effort and generous donation of expertise, time and resources by Dr. Hodes (patient travel, pre-operative workup, and long-term post-operative follow-up), Dejene Hodes (travel companion and interpreter for the patients), the Schultz family (volunteer host family), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (financial support for Dr. Hodes), the Medical Center of Plano (provided facility for surgery, recovery and rehab free of charge including all costs of surgery/anesthesia/nursing/physical therapy), the Texas Back Institute (x-rays, expertise, legal assistance, media support, and the shared expertise of Dr. Isador Lieberman, and Dr. S. Samuel Bederman who helped with surgical planning/decision making), Dr. Jeff Watts (helped with surgery and post-operative care), Dr. Andrew Simpson and Dr. Sandy Moore (helped with surgery free of charge), Dr. Anna Tran, physician assistant Michelle Wright and physician assistant Tennille Leftwich (post-operative care), NeuroPro (did neuro monitoring free of charge), Toni Belanger (who mothered the patients), Cheryl and Joe Zapata (hosted the patients after discharge) and spine companies Misonix (ultrasonic bone scalpel use free of charge), Medtronic (spine implants and bone graft free of charge), and Globus (spine implants free of charge). This event in 2015 was the first of many similar endeavors. We have since brought 3 other ethiopian children over to the US and have changed their lives forever! They are forever grateful.
The program has become affiliated with an organization called Conscience International (www.conscienceinternational.org), who has helped provide logistical support as well as coordinating and accounting for charitable donations made to the program. Tax deductible donations can be made for the Ethiopia Project directly through Conscience International by check (payable to Conscience International Ethiopia Project), or through the following link: www.givestraightbacks.com
Please join us in raising money to continue helping these children.
Dr & Mrs Ted Belanger