Edith’s life-changing surgery

Stories | November 5, 2020

In her early childhood Edith was hospitalised with a severe case of measles (later suspected to be Polio) and fell into a coma. Her parents, both teachers in a remote area in western Kenya, were devastated and prayed their daughter would be saved. God answered their prayers and Edith survived. However, the muscles in her left leg had wasted away and she could only walk with the aid of crutches and a caliper attached to a special raised boot.

Returning home, no longer able to run or play other childhood games outdoors with her childhood friends, Edith was heartbroken. “Early on, when I couldn’t run and play with my cousins and friends it was difficult. I felt terrible, I couldn’t participate in physical education or carry anything… I had crutches in both hands,” she recalls.

With Edith unable to manage the long walk to school, in grade four her parents sent her to boarding school. “The caliper didn’t stop me to progress or excel in school,” says Edith – who went on to graduate high school and be accepted into university for a Bachelor of Education. “But it would be exhausting at the end of the day, sitting in pain.”

A Christian, Edith prayed that God would miraculously heal her leg. “I used to pray about it, and I attended healing services and everything, and I used to think, ‘well, maybe this is it. This is how I’ll always live.’ And I would feel sad and try not to think about it.”

At first, it appeared that the miracle Edith was hoping for did not come. Until one day, walking to class during her second year at university in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, Edith crossed paths with two strangers – an encounter she says was orchestrated by God.

“In my second year of uni, I was walking to class, and these two strangers… I was walking towards them and nearly walked past them, but then they said ‘Hey, can we talk to you? We noticed how you are walking, we noticed that your leg could be operated on so you could walk free of the calliper. We know some doctors that come out from overseas and if you give us your details, we can assist you’.”

“It turns out that they were nurses from a hospital that had doctors sponsored from CBM. It felt God sent, like God orchestrated this,” says Edith.

“God is in every little detail. That day, I had started walking way earlier [than usual], and so if I hadn’t I would never have met these people. I think God’s way of working, there’s something about the timing and the place. Those people just happened to be there, walking in the direction of my hostel, on the path that I took to class, and I stopped to talk, to engage, to listen.”

Edith was initially hesitant, finding it hard to believe that after all these years she might be able to walk unaided.  “It was a leap of faith for me to trust that something would come of it.”

A classmate accompanied Edith to the hospital, where she met with Dr Topple who was from the UK at the Kikuyu Mission Hospital.  “I still remember his name,” Edith says. Dr Topple gave Edith hope that, with the right treatment, she might be able to walk without a calliper.

“Thinking about this was like a miracle – that I wouldn’t need this soggy boot and caliper,” Edith said.

When she told Dr Topple she couldn’t afford surgery, he told her that while CBM usually funded this intervention for children, he believed it would be life-changing for her and would apply for special funding.  CBM funded Edith’s surgery and after months of physiotherapy, she could walk without the caliper.

“I had the cast on my leg for eight weeks, and then when the cast came off, it was really weak.  But I could put my entire leg on the floor and stand straight without the braces.  With physio eventually the muscles got stronger and stronger, and then I didn’t need the [caliper] at all – the leg wouldn’t even fit in it!”

‘I returned my caliper and the boot to the shop where I’d bought it!” Edith remembers with a huge smile.

In her mid-20’s Edith, now a qualified teacher, migrated to Sydney, Australia. While there, she heard an advertisement for CBM on a Christian radio station and wondered “Is it the same CBM that helped me?”

Then two years ago, as a volunteer at 1WAY FM, a Christian radio station in Canberra, Edith had the opportunity to co-host a show on Miracles Day – a special fundraising event for CBM’s eye health work.

“When my friend invited me to co-host for Miracles Day, it dawned on me ‘That’s the organisation that funds services for children with disabilities in developing countries’. And I looked it up, and saw that they still funded the hospital where I was operated on. And I realised, it’s the same CBM.”

Edith surprised listeners when she shared the story of her own Miracle. “If my story is going to inspire, to bless something, then… thank God for that.”

Looking back on her life, Edith is struck by one thing: “I’m always amazed at God’s timing, and how he stages things. God is in the business of changing lives!”

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