Alberta hails from Liberia and that is how she introduces herself: "I'm Alberta Johnson from Liberia!" With a giggle and smile, she's off, running down the hall or chasing a balloon around the ward. Just celebrating her sixth birthday last weekend, this precocious little girl can put a smile on anyone's face. And goodness knows that she has had the time to wear down even the coldest heart--Alberta has been on the ward since May!
I took the above photo when she visited the OR office one day. I think it was silly hat day (her's is a flowerpot). I made her a photo tag (all the OR staff have one) with her photo, reading "Alberta Johnson, Candy Eater, Liberia." She visited the office almost everyday the past few weeks, as I got in the habit of giving her one gummi-bear or three Reese's Pieces per visit. She would always pick out the colors.
Our brilliant plastic surgeon, Dr. Tertius Venter of South Africa, released the contractures and did reconstruction with skin grafts. The operation itself only lasted about one hour! While Alberta quickly bounced back with the help of physical therapy, her graft sites took a long time to fully heal. Brimming with energy, poor Alberta was even put on bed rest for a few weeks so her wounds could heal!
Alberta and "Anando"
Alberta was discharged and headed back home to Liberia this yesterday, 133 days after her admission and just two days after her sixth birthday and a wonderful surprise party for her on Deck 7. Since arriving to the Africa Mercy, she regained over 80% of her range of motion in her arm, making it all the easier for her to eat her candies.