beshir's story - a story of facing africa

Beshir is an 11 year old boy, currently living in Jijiga, a town close to the border with Somaliland and I gather his background is Somali.  He was referred to facing africa not long after the mission started in january (2010) having suffered from noma as a young child.  He was one of the more severely affected patients, the noma having left him with several difficult issues; an inability to open his mouth at all (ankylosis) and he was indeed only able to feed by pushing his food right to the back of his cheek with a finger and into his mouth via a very small gap in his teeth; very low body weight, likely secondary to the above; significant scarring to his face which left his teeth exposed, this lead to daily bullying and comments, though luckily he has a supportive family.


It was decided that Beshir would need one of the more complex operations to address his issues.  The operation, carried out on the 7th of February, first addressed his inability to open his mouth, a problem caused by the fusion of his lower jaw to his upper jaw.  The scar tissue left by the noma then had to be removed, and in combination with the defect the noma had left presented a large defect that then had to be covered.  In order to cover this large space a 'free flap' had to be taken from his left forearm.  This operation involves taking a section of tissue, along with its blood supply (artery and vein), and reattaching it to the face to cover the bare area; this involves the use of microsurgery to plumb in the artery and vein into the neck to re-establish adequate blood supply.


Beshir did very well initially post operatively but unfortunately developed an infection to his wound which settled with time and he was discharged home.


He is one of the most memorable patients we had, constantly entertaining (see picture) with a fiery personality.  He was able to chew food and eat in a normal fashion following the surgery.  On questioning he felt that the operation had made a great improvement to his life, and (on an ordinal scale) felt 'very happy' with the results.


He also told us that on returning to his hometown his father would slaughter a goat in celebration.


Best wishes and many , many thanks for all that you have done to give Bashir a decent start in life.

Warm regards



Chris Lawrence

Facing Africa

[email protected]




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