Please see Fitsum's own story below, edited for English. Fitsum is the 20-year-old son of a friend through my work with a non-profit in Ethiopia. He has severe aplastic anemia, a condition in which his bone marrow has stopped making all types of blood cells. Without treatment, 70% of patients with this disease die within the first year. However, there is a cure: a bone marrow transplant. For him, a bone marrow transplant would cost between $25,000 and $45,000. His family is raising ~$5000 for travel and bone marrow match (HLA) testing, but the total amount is completely beyond their capacity to raise. I am helping them raise money for this procedure to save his life. He is lucky to be alive right now with his blood count (Hemoglobin 6.5, neutrophils 486, and platelets 13,000, all of which are extremely low). I have created a double match up to $10,000. For example, if you donate $100 by April 15th, it will become $300. If we raise $10,000, we will have $30,000! All donations are tax deductible and much appreciated! -Katy Meilleur
"My name is Fitsum Alemayehu. “Fitsum” means perfect; my parents told me that they gave me the name because I am a perfect gift of God for them according to James 1:17.
My grades have been good, and I had a good result on the Ethiopia national exam in grades 8 & 10. When I started 11th grade, my results declined and so did my grade 12 national exams. At first, no one recognized that the decline in my test scores was due to my illness and the lack of concentration that accompanies it. So, my grades and test scores in the 12th grade were not good, but I joined college to study Information Technology (IT), which is my field of interest.
I played soccer in school until grade 10. I enjoyed playing soccer. But by grade 12, I felt tired and could not play a full game. I also could not walk home from church without stopping to rest. When I told my parents about this situation, my family decided to see the doctor. In the beginning the doctors gave me medicine for anemia. When I finished the medicine and got a blood test, the result was worse. So, they referred me to the Government Hospital.
In the hospital, they ran a lot of blood tests and a bone marrow test. That is how they found out about the bone marrow problem, which is severe aplastic anemia. When the doctors told us about this diagnosis and illness and its consequence, it was shocking.
As a family it was hard to accept it, especially for my father and mother. My father questioned, “Why is this happening to my child instead of me?” My mother did not leave me for even an hour when I was in the hospital for 39 days. I know my illness affects their daily life and ministry. My sister is also carrying my burden, helping to take care of me.
Now my illness hinders me from social life because I have to avoid getting an infection. I dare not ride crowded busses and it is not affordable to use private taxis. I can’t play football because of my low platelets. I want to continue my education, but often I am so tired from my anemia I cannot go to class.
Sometimes I am confused why this has happened in my life. I can’t make friends as I wish, and I have a hard time thinking about the future. A bone marrow transplant requires money beyond my imagination. Friends and relatives have paid for one medicine that might help temporarily, but I do not know how far that can continue. The doctors have prescribed other medicines that might also help, but we can’t afford them even with the support of friends.
The doctors recommend that I get a bone marrow transplant, which can cure severe aplastic anemia. I would have to go abroad because bone marrow transplant is not available in my country. However, we will never be able to afford that. In our country the minister’s income is very low even to survive properly.
As Christians we are praying to God for his intervention because nothing is impossible with God. We can’t do anything except wait on the Lord. He can heal by His miracles, or He can use doctors.
If God does a miracle in my life, my plan is to study computer science because this generation is an IT generation., I also want to have a music studio, arrange and produce Gospel music, and train youth in Gospel music. In the long term, I would love to use music to reach people with the good news of Jesus.