Exeter, NH – In July of 2013, Dr. Robert Bear, a Rye resident and retired orthopaedic surgeon from Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics, reached out to Dr. Joshua Siegel looking for help. Dr. Bear had learned of the story of Samuel Mutungi, a young boy living in Uganda, who had Cerebral Palsy and had significant orthopaedic problems with his hips and legs. “I was approached by a friend, Richard Summers, who knew the family and he was passionate about wanting to help. Richard had done relief work in Rwanda, which borders Uganda, and had first-hand knowledge of the hardships that Samuel faced. I told him that I would do whatever I could to help,” said Dr. Bear. Samuel’s grandmother lives and works with Richard a member of Rye Congregational Church which has been and is of significant help with Samuel’s cause.
Samuel’s family needed an actively practicing physician to write to the Ugandan Embassy to request a medical visa for him to travel to the United States. Because he had limited access to medical treatment in Uganda, they established a goal to have him travel to the US to seek out care at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bear added, “I reached out to Access Sports Medicine and Josh because I knew that they would make it happen. Within a day a letter had been sent to the Ugandan Embassy requesting a visa for Samuel.” Over the next few months, Dr. Siegel and Access Sports Medicine sent several letters and follow-up emails to the Ugandan Embassy, trying to expedite the process and bring Samuel to the US.
In late August 2013, Samuel’s family was notified that he had been granted a visa to travel to the United States to seek out medical care. Just one day after being notified that the visa had been granted, Samuel was flown to Boston and an appointment was scheduled for him to see Dr. Kevin Heaton at Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics in Exeter. Access Sports Medicine had offered to begin the evaluation and treatment of Samuel as he and his family waited to be scheduled at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Samuel’s Cerebral Palsy (CP) had caused his legs to turn in and atrophy, making him immobile without the help of his mother or using a walker. “When I first saw Samuel, I noticed his big smile and great attitude, even with all that he has gone through, he really brightens up the room,” said Dr. Heaton. Dr. Heaton determined that while waiting to secure an appointment at Boston Children’s Hospital, Samuel would benefit from some additional bracing and physical therapy. Unfortunately, Samuel and his mother had limited resources available to pay for their living expenses and the cost of his treatment while in the US. They needed help.
Over the next few months, several local businesses came together to help out Samuel and his family. Excel Orthopaedic Specialists in Woburn offered to donate Physical Therapy sessions at a location close to where Samuel and his mother are staying while in the US. The Monarch School of New England, a non-profit school for children with special needs in Rochester, NH, donated a pediatric walker for Samuel to use. Seacoast Orthotics and Prosthetics and owner Chris Phillips were able to fit Samuel with custom Ankle Foot Orthoses and have them donated by the manufacturer. Dr. Joshua Siegel and Access Sports Medicine donated pediatric forearm crutches, in addition to the time spent coordinating his care and sharing Samuel’s story.
Samuel has made great progress since arriving in the United States. His mobility has improved significantly and he can now walk and even “run” on his own using his forearm crutches. His posture has improved as he is standing more upright and he is visibly much taller. In December 2013, Samuel was able to have a consultation at Boston Children’s Hospital and he is scheduled to receive botox injections in an attempt to relieve the spasticity in his legs.
Sam’s Journey is far from over and the treatments that he will be receiving at Boston Children’s Hospital are very expensive. The Rye Congregational Church has set up a fund in Samuel’s name to assist his family with the medical expenses. Donations can be sent to the Rye Congregational Church, attn: Ugandan Missions Samuel, 580 Washington Rd, Rye, NH 03870.
Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics would like to thank all of the individuals and businesses that have come together to make a difference in improving the quality of Samuel’s life. If you have the opportunity to meet Samuel and his mother, you will see just how much they appreciate all that they have been given. For more information about Samuel and his story, check-out his blog at samuelsjourney.wordpress.com, or call Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics at 603-775-7575.