Meet Eddieton, he is 5 years old. He was only 3 weeks old when his mosquito net that was supposed to be protecting him caught fire from a candle, severely burning him. Eddie was rushed to the Africa Mercy Ship Doctors (A non-profit governmental hospital ship that provides free health care to developing countries). The surgical team had to extract skin from his thighs to treat his head and facial scars. He continued to receive health care from the Mercy ship for a year until the ship sailed on to the next country.
His mom then decided to take him to Ghana to seek more medical help. But she was not successful in finding the medical care he needed forcing them to return to Liberia. A few weeks later his mom found a missionary hospital in Monrovia that treated Eddie for two years. Unfortunately, the missionary hospital was forced to close down due lack of funding. She did not know where else to turn for help and she became very depressed because she could not do anything to for him. Her sister Eva stepped in and offered to help by taking him for a couple of weeks to give Eddie's mom a break.
After the two weeks were over, Eddie's mom never showed up to pick him up. Weeks turned into months and Eva knew that her sister was never coming back. Eddie has been under Eva’s care for the last two years. She receives no help from his biological mom, dad, or grandparents. No one in the family wants anything to do with him. Eva is a single mom and she has two kids of her own. She struggles every day to take care of the three children. “Sometimes I receive cash donations from random strangers who happen to see us on the street or on the bus,” says Eva.
Eddie has this awesome energy that surrounds him and when you meet him, you cannot help but feel it. I met Eddie last week as I was coming down the stairway from visiting the children's ward. He was sitting in the patients’ waiting room. I happened to look his way and caught him smiling at me with his big brown eyes. I walked towards him and he leaned forward extending his hand as he reached for my camera. I asked him if he wanted me to take a picture of him and he nodded yes. I took a picture of him after confirming with Eva that it was OK. He was so eager to see how the shot came out and when I showed it to him smiled and giggled.
Eddie has long standing stigmata burns on his face. The decision was made to operate on his chin and both eyes to release the contraction on his lower lip followed by an Entropion procedure. Eddie has a condition in which the eyelid (usually the lower lid) folds inward. It is very uncomfortable, as the eyelashes constantly rub against the cornea and irritate it. A procedure was performed under general anesthetic which consisted of releasing the contracture of his lower lip and eye lids with full thickness skin graft reconstruction. This will allow him to close his mouth and eyes, as well as improve his facial features.
The procedure went well and Eddie is currently recuperating in the surgical ward. His skin grafts were evaluated today and the scars are looking much better. It will take about six weeks for the wounds/scars to completely heal.