A Nigerian woman was ecstatic that she and her daughter traveled more over 6,000 miles to spend their Christmas in an intensive care unit .
Mariam Ameh's 13-year-old daughter Faridah has been recovering well after journeying to Cleveland's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, where doctors removed a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit, the biggest the surgeons had seen.
The tumor took up more than half the right side of Faridah's brain, causing the arm to snake oddly when she held it out. About a month ago, she started dragging her left leg when she walked. Nigerian doctors told Mariam that her daughter's tumor, which surrounded major arteries in her brain, was life-threatening.
Dr. Al Cohen, of Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, said the 13-year-old was just weeks away from death when she arrived at the hospital. Her 12-hour brain surgery was a success. Shortly after her 12-hour surgery, Faridah already was wiggling her toes and sticking out her tongue. The tumor was also benign.
Farida's case drew the attention of Tami Shobe, the founder of an organization that matches sick children with American doctors and flies them to the United States.
Children's Medical Missions West often takes months, but Shobe, of Waynesfield in northwest Ohio, immediately set a plan in motion to get Faridah to America. Cohen agreed to perform the surgery for free.
As the Amehs were working to secure visas and set up the surgery, 71 of Faridah's schoolmates were killed in a Dec. 10 plane crash as they traveled home for the holidays. The students at Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja, Nigeria, had helped raise money for Faridah. Mariam and her daughter arrived in Cleveland nine days after the crash.
Feridah now has a stack of get well cards and letters from friends in Nigeria to read. Because the cards are from students who raised money for Feridah to come to the United States, they are extra meaningful.
Mariam Ameh said her experience in the United States has taught her about generosity. "That is the joy of Christmas," she said