A Homewood-based medical mission to the African nation of Sierra Leone had hoped to bring a 17-year-old high school senior to Chicago to be treated for bone cancer.
But Dr. Sam Kormoi, the founder of Pan-African Rural Health & Social Services (PRHeSS Ministry) found out this week that the teen, Fatima Swaray, died in a hospital in the West African country.
“We lost Fatima to bone cancer this morning,” Kormoi wrote in an email on July 23.
Kormoi’s organization was working to save the girl’s life by bringing her to the United States to receive the treatment, care and rehabilitation that she needed to survive.
Fatima and her mother had been trying to secure a visa to travel to the U.S. since late April, Kormoi said, adding that she died seven days before her scheduled visa interview.
The teen had originally gone to the PRHeSS hospital in rural Sierra Leone for a swollen right ankle. She was treated and then referred to an orthopedic surgeon in a bigger city, where a biopsy was performed. When the results came back, almost two months later, the doctor said Fatima would need an amputation and that would be the only remedy.
That was when Kormoi began the process of attempting to bring the teen to the U.S. for treatment.
“We secured Fatima and her mother a place in the capital city of Freetown for three months,” he said. His organization cared for them and paid for all their travel documents, including their visas. Kormoi said he secured pro bono treatment from one of Chicago’s best cancer surgeons.
“We did all that we could, successfully, but not enough to save her life,” Kormoi said.
Kormoi’s organization was making arrangements to take Fatima’s remains back to her village for burial, he said.