Thanks to the generosity of the community, a young boy from Zambia has a new lease on life.
The Mail reported in July of last year of a major fundraiser called Africa in the Valley. Anthea Maseka spearheaded the event to raise funds for Lukumo Chibilu. The boy, now 11 years old, was in need of a lifesaving procedure to free him from the painful disease of a sickle cell anemia.
Maseka announces that Lukumo has arrived home in Africa on May 2 after having the procedure done in New Delhi, India.
She said one single event inspired the entire effort, and that was advances in Canadian medicine.
“It all started in 2016 with CTV announcing the first bone marrow transplant at the Children’s Hospital, so that is when the search started for us,” said Maskea.
In fact, Cardilia Fox, who received the procedure and was cured of sickle cell anemia was a speaker at Africa in the Valley last summer.
Anthea said they explored having the procedure done in Canada but it was not possible, and it was very cost prohibitive in the United States.
Even in India, the cost was great, however, Africa in the Valley was able to raise more than $20,000 for the procedure. Private donors came up with the rest of the funds needed.
“There are no words to express the gratitude and thankfulness the family has for what the community of Drumheller did in helping this boy,” said Anthea.
She explains Lukumo’s health was at a point that he was receiving by-weekly blood transfusions, and was very frail. In order for the procedure to be successful, he needed a near perfect match as a donor. His sister was able to provide the donation.
Anthea said the bone marrow transplant was done late last year and she was actually able to go and witness the procedure, and also stayed for a month to support the family.
After five months of treatment, Lukumo arrived home, and medical follow-up will continue.
“He has come a long way. It has been a journey and a half for the family,” she said.