Liberia: Ailing Nurse Seeks Help for Spinal Condition

Bendu has been struggling with a spinal problem for months and cannot stand without help.  

“Due to the non-availability of the spinal fusion and instrumentation sets, we advised that the patient seeks further management in a center that is equipped with the spine system,” a summary of a medical report signed by Dr. Alvin Nah Doe, a Neurosurgeon.

Bendu Ballah, a young medical practitioner who is on the verge of being paralyzed, is seeking financial assistance from the public to facilitate a much-needed surgical intervention abroad.

The 33-year-old resident of the 72nd community, in Paynesville, told the Daily Observer that she has been enduring severe pains in her lower back and some abnormal sensations since October of last year — a situation that has rendered her bedridden, practically unable to walk and attend to herself.

“I’m not only feeling pains but I’m no longer able to move by myself. I cannot do anything for myself anymore. I’m in too much distress and I need help so that I can have a normal life again. 

“I’m too young to be suffering this much,” Mrs. Ballah, who medical experts have warned would become paralyzed if she does not seek medical attention abroad urgently. 

It all started for Bendu last October when experienced a sharp pain in her lower back while leaving work at the Kolahun Medical Center in her native Lofa County. She had been doing voluntary services at the center upon graduating from nursing school in 2018. After nearly a month of living in pain and agony, Bendu was transferred to Monrovia for further attention after her colleagues in the county tried unsuccessfully to solve the problem.

She was diagnosed with Moderate Lumbar Canal Stenosis with Radiculopathy in February of this year after numerous tests at both Jahmale Diagnostic Center and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia.

Moderate spinal stenosis is the intermediate stage of spinal stenosis — a category somewhere between mild and severe spinal stenosis, according to the USA Spine Care & Orthopedics website.  It causes pain in the low back, abnormal sensations, the absence of sensation (numbness) in the legs, thighs, feet, or buttocks, or loss of bladder and bowel control.

Dr. Alvin Nah Doe, a Neurosurgeon Consultant at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, who carried out the diagnosis, has since advised that she be taken out of the country as the condition cannot be handled in the country.

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He indicated that neuro-decompressive surgery with probable fusion instrumentation is recommended. 

“Due to the non-availability of the spinal fusion and instrumentation sets, we advised that the patient seeks further management in a center that is equipped with the spine system,” a summary of a medical report signed by Dr. Doe says.

Experts say that when one has moderate spinal stenosis (MSS), the symptoms are a constant reminder that the spinal canal is continuing to narrow in some areas, and as this occurs, the person may have trouble standing up straight, walking for long distances, or getting out of bed without any considerable pain.

Perhaps a greater concern, they say, is the fact that MSS can be a progressive condition, and as such its sufferer may have to contend with the condition worsening into Severe Spinal Stenosis (SSS)—and for Bendu, this is her greatest fear. 

A cry for Help

A 2018 graduate of the Peace Home Medical School located at Neezoe Junction, Paynesville, Bendu left Monrovia immediately upon graduating for her native Lofa County where she was rendering voluntary service at the Kolahun health center prior to the unfortunate incident.  No help has been coming from the center since she came back. Its administrators have practically cut ties with her, she said. “I served that county for more than two years without getting a dime. But to check on me and see how I’m doing is difficult for them,” she lamented. 

“I served my country diligently and this was supposed to be the time for them to stand with me, but they are nowhere… such is life. She however noted that it is not late for them to act.” 

Contacts made so far with a medical facility in India, which says it can perform the surgery, but the cost is US$8,000. An additional US$4,000 is needed for airfares and accommodation for the two weeks of stay in that country.

Bendu who is physically drained could not hold back tears as she expressed fear of eventually becoming paralyzed if she did not need assistance to undergo the required surgery.  The sickness has not only deprived the mother of three of the opportunities to fend for the family, but the condition has also brought unbearable hardship upon her household—a heavy burden she wished to get rid of.

Her hope, however, faints by the day as help seems to be coming from nowhere for surgery. She has therefore decided to come to the public for assistance.  She is calling on humanitarians and philanthropists to help save her life. 

“I’m dying.  Please help save my life. My condition is getting worse and my family does not have the means to pay for the surgery,” she said. “I’m drained by the day and I want to call on Liberians and foreigners of kind hearts to help me out. It is not easy, the pain is too much for me.”

“I don’t want the situation to become severe. I don’t want to get paralyzed. I cry every day not to reach that level. I’m too young,” she said. I need help from everyone as it is still possible for the surgery to be performed. 

Bendu said she has been in a different world of her own since this sickness started. “It has been too traumatic for me,” she said, adding that because of her condition, she has not been able to “live the life of a normal person.”

She needs to undergo surgery, which, if successful, will contribute to her longevity. “This is why I’m pleading with the Liberian public to come to my aid.”

She also called on the Spoon Foundation of Stanton Witherspoon and the Cummings Foundation as well as the Costa Show to come to her rescue.

“I want the Spoon Foundation, and Cummings Foundation families to help take me out of this suffering. I’m looking up to them and other Liberians to help me. And also to my brother, Henry Costa, your sister is dying and she needs your help.  Momo T. Cyrus, please hear my cry and intervene in her situation.”

Those wishing to provide Bendu with the needed financial assistance can contact her via telephone number +231886217240.