Orthopaedic mission at Boko hospital: a ray of hope for many malformed children

From November 8 to 14, 2023, Tom Mulier and Bart Van Poppel, orthopaedic surgeons at the Heilig Hart Hospital in Leuven, were accompanied by fellow doctors Dr Esteves and Dr Vanderdonckt (anaesthetists) to assist the team of doctors at the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Hospital in Boko.

In just a few days, the doctors performed 26 orthopaedic surgery operations. The patients were children from different regions of Benin. They had foot or leg deformities that prevented them from walking. Thanks to the orthopaedic mission, many children were treated free of charge in the hope that they could walk normally like other children, enjoy better health and flourish.

Dr Yves Aloukoutou, who attended all the consultations and operations, greatly appreciates this initiative. For him, the children deserve to be able to walk normally. “The mission went well. There were some very complex cases, but by pooling our experience and knowledge, we can do something for these children.” For him, it’s also important that treatment is virtually free. “The parents of some of the children we called for screening couldn’t afford to pay for the trip.”

He also regrets having to disappoint some people. “Some people come to us with pathologies that could and should have been treated two or three years ago. Today, they are often at too advanced a stage for us to be able to help them. All we can do for these children is try to alleviate the problems.

People are delighted with the mission. They regularly ask about the program and the dates of future missions because they have relatives or acquaintances they’d like to see operated on.