A badly burned infant who endured a 60-hour journey from Africa to Utah, three painful skin-graft surgeries and daily rehabilitation sessions is going home.
Nine-month-old Adjoa Konadu suffered third-degree burns over 25 percent of her body two months ago when a candle fell into her bedding in a village near Kumasi, Ghana.Members of a Salt Lake medical team met her while working with doctors at a large teaching hospital in northern Ghana and decided her only hope was treatment at the Intermountain Burn Center at University Hospital.
Adjoa is now doing so well that she is being discharged five months earlier than expected.
"We have mixed emotions because we adore her, we're all attached to her, but we know this is the right thing at the right time," said Stephen Morris, co-director of the burn unit and a member of the medical team that brought Adjoa and her mother, Selina Opoku, to Utah.
Because of the severity of the burns, she probably would have died within a few weeks at the African hospital. The facility is overcrowded with 1,500 patients and lacks even the most ordinary supplies, including antibiotics, wound dressings and medical equipment, Morris said.
Adjoa suffered deep burns on her face, limbs and trunk. Despite losing all her fingers and toes on the left side of her body and the whitish scars that mar her skin, the 15-pound child giggles, coos, nurses like any other infant.
Mother and child were to fly home Thursday, and Opoku more than once has thanked the burn unit staff, Morris said.
"Obviously we can't communicate very well because I don't speak Twi and she doesn't speak much English, but she's expressed her gratitude and has been very appreciative of all we have done."
Burn unit physical therapist Daphne Wilhelm said Opoku has missed her four other children and has been anxious to return home.
Adjoa's left arm and both legs are wrapped in protective mittens, and she will have to wear pressure garments for about two years to keep her scars flattened.
The Salt Lake health-care workers were in Ghana earlier this year under the auspices of Harvest Africa Children's Foundation, a Salt Lake-based nonprofit organization working to improve educational, nutritional and medical services for African youth.