THE only solution was to amputate his legs above the knees due to his abnormally long feet whose genesis could not be diagnosed by the medical doctors. But before the amputation could be carried out, an American charitable organisation, Orphan Medical Network International (OMNI), came to Anderson Mambwe’s rescue. After nine months of receiving treatment in the USA, he is now able to stand on his two feet and wear shoes. A miracle he never thought would be realised. Our staffer MONICA KAYOMBO reports.
EIGHTEEN-year-old Anderson Mambwe of Masaiti has seemingly lived to the adage that where there is a will, there is always a way.
Mambwe had never known how it feels to wear shoes due to his disfigured feet, a congenital condition, but a surgical operation in the US has changed his life.
Born in Mwense in Luapula Province from late Emmanuel Chibwe and Petronella Mwila, a peasant farmer, Mambwe has become a living testimony.
Mambwe was born with abnormal feet, which kept growing as the excruciating pain in his body kept increasing, too.
He learnt to endure the unimaginable pain at a tender age even though some people sympathised with him and offered help whenever he needed it.
To some extent,he led a fairly lonely and painful life.
Nevertheless, he was given an opportunity to go to Mambilima School for the Handicapped of the Christian Mission in Many Lands (CMML) church and though his feet inhibited his mobility to some extent, his intellectual capacity is amazing.
Having a conversation with Mambwe would definitely reveal that he is a nerd.
While pursuing his secondary studies at the school, he ended up meeting the people who have changed his life for the better.
With the help of the church authorities, Mambwe was taken to various local hospitals, including the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and Ndola Central Hospital, but without success.
Mambwe says the visits to the hospitals proved futile because the specialists assigned to determine the cause of the growth in his feet failed.
The last option was to amputate his legs above the knees and when this news got to him, he ironically got excited.
“I was happy to learn that the solution to my problem had finally been found,’’ he said with a smile.
After meeting Mambwe and learning how efforts to help him had failed in the past, Karen ReMine, President of charity organisation Orphan Medical Network International (OMNI), arranged to take Mambwe Lusaka before he could actually be flown to the US for a surgery.
“After hearing my problem, Mrs ReMine said amputation was not the solution. She told me that someone in the US would operate on me and that my feet would be shortened,’’ he said.
Mrs ReMine and her husband went a step further by providing accommodation and other necessities for Mambwe while in the US.
Mambwe’s first surgery took place in March 2012 and lasted six hours and 30 minutes.
“After my first operation, I felt better. The pain disappeared. My feet were size 17 EEEE and they have been reduced to size 14,’’ he said.
A second and final operation took place in September 2012 and lasted only four hours.
After nine months of treatment by Dr Charles Zelen of Lewis-Gale Hospital and his committed team, Mambwe is back in Zambia with a big smile.
He explains that the biggest challenge all medical doctors who attended to his problem had was not being able to establish the root cause of his problem.
“Dr Zelen was also not able to determine what caused the abnormal growth in my two feet. But I am happy that he believed like I did that God could perform a miracle,’’ Mambwe said.
Former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa, who had a chance to meet with Mambwe when she officially commissioned Morgan Harrington Orphanage School in Ndola’s George Township, said she was excited to learn about Mambwe’s life -changing story.
She has since implored other organisations to emulate OMNI, saying ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Apparently, Mambwe, who is expected to be in Grade 12 next year, is in the hands of ‘Seeds of Hope Orphanage’ in Masaiti, a local charity that is trying to secure a school place for him.
Mambwe, who has four brothers and three sisters, says the Seed of Hope Orphanage has offered to educate him and send him for tertiary studies.
His ambition is to become either a medical doctor or lawyer so that he could help the under-privileged in society.
He is grateful to Mrs ReMine and other people who have played a role in improving his health status.
“I want to encourage others who might be in a similar situation not to give up,” he said.