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Treating Our Children (the sickest of the sick)
« on: August 04, 2009, 12:44:21 PM »

Despite a battle over health care reform, those in the U.S. are lucky to have doctors who can fix serious health defects. Imagine having a debilitating health problem while living in a small village in war-torn Somalia. One Rochester man is saving lives by relocating the sickest of the sick.

It’s hard not to smile when young Mohamed Ali laughs while playing. The truth is he was given a second chance at life. Ali was born with his bladder on the outside of his body, a defect too complicated to fix in Somalia. It was Abdiaziz Maahaay who allowed Ali to have the second chance.

“When I saw his picture the first day his relative brought to me, here in Minnesota, I’ll try what I can do to help him out.”

With donations from the Minnesota Somali community and the promise of free medical care from Mayo doctors, Maahaay was able to bring Ali to Rochester.

“Once I start, I could not stop it. There something you feel.. like self-esteem about yourself for the work you have done. There’s no higher price than to help another person,” explains Maahaay, a childrens’ mental health case manager for Olmsted county and Zumbro.

Since 2004, Maahaay has helped many Somali children and adults get the medical treatment they need, whether that meant moving them to hospitals in Kenya and Ethiopia, or raising money to bring the worst cases here to Mayo Clinic.

Maahaay’s charity began with this girl. 2 years ago, Maahaay brought Murayo Ali to Mayo Clinic after she was kept as a sex slave at 7 years-old by Somali guerilla fighters, who eventually left her to die.

“The first time she was coming, she was afraid of the people, to see them. She was kind of scared of men because of the rape, what happened. Luckily now, she is part of society, community. She welcomes, she shakes hands,” says Maahaay.

Not only has her spirit healed, but so has her small body. Now Murayo will head to John Marshall in the fall.

As Maahaay watches Ali play at the Ronald McDonald house, he says he marvels at all the charity the Somali community and American doctors have given.

“Look now, someone from Somalia here, the highest health care system in the United States and they’re being treated just like someone who came from Kings. You know, they treat us equal.”

While Ali doesn’t speak too much, you can see his gratitude on his face for something not everyone gets… a second chance.

This month, Maahaay will take donated medication and equipment to Mogadishu… thanks to the help of the African Mission of Somalia.


"you never cure a patient, you treat pain often but you always comfort the patient."


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