Flash appeal for crocodile victim

By Matthew McIlvenna, June 1st, 2011

It’s my first week back in Tanzania after a break in the UK, and there’s already a super urgent issue demanding FoCT’s support. One of FoCT’s key local partners, the Muslim based NGO Izaas, is currently taking many patients to the Catholic hospital of Kagondo to undergo operations for cleft lip and cleft pallet, as well as skin grafting for patients suffering from contractures. I was there this morning supporting the process, when the doctor in charge of the hospital asked me to join him to visit a patient in the one of the wards. I wasn’t really ready for what I saw.

crocodile attack victimSharif Abdulla, a young lad from the village on the shores of Lake Victoria, was lying in a bed, clearly in extreme pain, and being attended by his father. Sharif is number three of thirteen kids, and helps his dad in the “shambas” where they grow bananas, maize and cassava to feed the big family. Last week, he was taking a morning bath in the shallow waters on the shores of Lake Victoria, together with some of his friends. He had just covered all his face and head with soap when he saw a huge shadow in the water. Instinctively, he leapt, but the crocodile caught his leg. He screamed to his mates for help, and they all came, and tried to pulled Sharif free, but the croc’s mouth was slam shut on his leg. The croc rolled, his friends pulled, and suddenly Sharif was released from the croc’s mouth. He turned around, only to see the croc swimming away with his lower leg in its mouth.

His friends managed to stem the blood loss, by tying some trousers round Sharif’s gaping leg wounds. They then had to go by canoe for several hours to reach a local dispensary, where he was stabilised and given pain killers. It took a further two days to reach a proper hospital, by which time the leg was in a bad way. Kagondo hospital was forced to amputate the leg above the bite zone, in order to stem the spread of infection. Croc teeth have highly infectious bacteria, which cause a lot of secondary complications for victims who are lucky enough to survive an attack.

Sharif now needs intensive treatment to help him recover from this horrific experience. Due to the leg infection, he is going to have to be hospitalised for several weeks. The drugs are not cheap. His father has 12 other kids to support and is basically just a subsistence farmer. His father is already facing a bill for the leg amputation which he has no hope of being able to pay. In order to cover the costs in the coming weeks, we will need at least £500. Once Sharif’s wound is healed, then he will be one of the first clients of the new Jaipur Limb centre that FoCT is helping to establish together with Kagondo hospital, Izaas, the Rotary Club and “Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope” (ELofH). FoCT will need to help finance his ongoing recovery and adjustment to a life with a prosthetic limb.

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