AN INCREDIBLE STORY OF HOPE
by Tracy Elliott
Lazaro Kudambu, like most 9-year-old boys loves soccer. He is also passionate about school, but because of his severe facial deformities and the teasing he's received from other children, he has stopped going. Lazaro is a courageous young boy and despite having part of his skull burned away, losing his left eye and half his nose and ear, he has remained positive.
Lazaro lives in a remote village two hours from Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. He is one of eight children and suffers from epileptic seizures. Three years ago he had a seizure and fell into a cooking fire, causing severe third-degree burns to his face.
His mother took him to a local health center and after a few days, he was transferred to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe. He stayed there for three months, but received very little treatment. Because of the extent of his burns, he was considered "a hopeless case" and eventually sent home "to die."
Since then, Lazaro's mother has cared for him at home, never giving up hope. Each time she cleaned his wounds, she would weep and continuously pray for help to come their way.
Such miraculous help arrived in October 2012 when Lazaro and his mother went to a mobile clinic in their village. Lazaro and his mother never expected just how his life was about to change.
Sofiya Kukhotskaya, a lab technician at the mobile clinic unit, did a malaria test on him and took some pictures.
She sent these to Operation Smile, an international children's medical charity which chiefly performs cleft lip/palate surgery on children worldwide.
(Sofiya and Tracy Elliott, a teacher in Malawi were involved in finding patients for the inaugural Operation Smile mission to Malawi in November 2012.)
Upon the arrival of the Operation Smile team, Sofiya and Tracy brought Lazaro to the team of doctors hoping there was something they could do to help him.
After examining Lazaro, they believed the tension from the burn would likely cause him to lose sight in his remaining eye, because he couldn't close it properly.
A skin graft was performed to release the tension above his right eye and another incision was made above his left lip to relieve the tension there.
But because of the severity of Lazaro's injuries and the high risk involved in the multiple operations he would need, a permanent, long-term facility with a team of qualified surgeons had to be found. Several options were explored, but each presented drawbacks of some kind.
Many people saw Lazaro’s photos and heard his story, but it was Carson White, a nurse in Malawi, who went a step further. She took detailed photos of the burns and sent an application on Lazaro’s behalf to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, a philanthropic organization in California dedicated to "transforming the lives of disadvantaged children with physical deformities."
After only a few weeks Lazaro was accepted by Fresh Start for the needed reconstructive surgeries, free of charge.
He will need to spend a year in the US with a guardian/translator and be separated from his home and family for that time.
(We hope to raise funds to fly his parents to visit him at some point during his stay.)
Passports and visas are required, and are in the process of being procured, so it's possible Lazaro and his guardian might arrive in the US as early as August or September, 2013.
This is an incredible opportunity for Lazaro Kudambu, and we are praying for a life-changing outcome for him! Miracles can happen, especially for a boy whose name means Lazarus (see John 11:1-44)
For more information about how you might help, email
Operation Smile http://www.operationsmile.org/
Fresh Start http://www.freshstart.org/