For most of 2017, we offered you updates about the little Afghani orphan named Freshta who has begun a new life in the United States. Freshta was born in Afghanistan with a large teratoma (a normally benign tumor with tissue or organ components from multiple germ layers), a cleft lip and palate, the absence of her right eye, and a deformed orbit and right side of her face. As is far too common with enormously challenged children like her, she was abandoned just days after her birth by her family outside an orphanage operated by Japanese missionaries in Kabul, the capital of her home country, where her cleft lip and nose were repaired with less than optimal results.
Freshta’s Chicago surgery was delayed for several months while Dr. Lisa David and a team near Freshta’s home in North Carolina worked to seal leakage of fluid from her head and to control recurring seizures likely caused by her teratoma. Freshta was healthy enough at last this fall to undergo major surgery—which ultimately took place at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Dr. David led the September 29 surgery, where she was assisted by staff colleague and pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Daniel Couture, and by Dr. Derek Bruce, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who is currently a WorldCF medical director and member of our board of directors.
Drs. David and Bruce report that the surgery to remove Freshta’s huge teratoma was a great success and that, as this newsletter goes to press, she has had no more seizures—something that all of us are delighted to hear. Freshta—who everyone who meets her falls in love with—is now in temporary foster care in the Winston-Salem area, prior to moving to a new and, we hope, permanent home in North Carolina soon.
From the outset of her great adventure, Freshta has been assisted by nuns, physicians and surgeons, visa and adoption attorneys, international child-welfare advocates, and by the North Carolina family who cared for her up till the time of her surgery. Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, and without the constant care of dozens of people in Afghanistan and the United States, Freshta would not be getting the fresh start she so richly deserves.
Her future is very bright, but her additional surgeries will be complex and expensive, and please help us help this precious little girl live a truly normal life!