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Top News Emergency blood transfusion saves 14-year-old boy’s life

Emergency blood transfusion saves 14-year-old boy’s life

A teenage survivor of human trafficking is in recovery after doctors told him he almost died of malaria.

Daniel* had to undergo a life-saving blood transfusion after tests revealed he was at high risk of organ failure or even death. His blood system had been destroyed by the spread of a strain of malaria. The infection had also caused severe anaemia. 

Just one month prior to the blood transfusion, Daniel had been trapped in exploitative labour in Ethiopia. He had gone to the capital, Addis Ababa, in search of work because his family were in financial hardship and unable to afford basic necessities. 

But he was tricked into working long hours at a large open-air market, lifting heavy loads of goods for very little pay. He was treated harshly and overworked. 

Whilst he was working, Daniel described being in “excruciating pain”, so much so that he was left with no choice but to leave his employment. At the start of this year, he was working on the streets for about one month, while experiencing symptoms such as chills, severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue and poor appetite. 

He took himself to a health centre where doctors prescribed medication but sadly this did not improve Daniel’s situation. 

Hope for Justice’s outreach team found Daniel living on the streets and invited him to join one of our Lighthouses. These are safe havens for children who have been exploited, or who are at risk of exploitation. 

Daniel undergoes a medical check at our Lighthouse

Our nurse carried out a medical examination and quickly identified that Daniel had a high fever and other symptoms. The team immediately transferred Daniel to a local clinic. They sent samples to a lab that revealed that Daniel had contracted a strain of malaria. He was also diagnosed with severe anaemia, caused by the malaria infection. 

A member of our team said: “A physician told the child that his blood system had been destroyed by malaria. He therefore needed an urgent blood transfusion. The survivor was told that if he delayed the procedure by two or three days, he was at high risk of organ failure and possibly even death.” 

The physicians referred Daniel to a specialist Africa, Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Rehabilitation and Training (ALERT) Hospital

Outside the ALERT Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Image, Google Maps

After the blood transfusion and anti-malarial treatment, and one day’s stay in hospital, Daniel was discharged. He is now recovering well at the Lighthouse. He said: “I was in a life-threatening condition. If Hope for Justice had not identified my symptoms and taken me for treatment, I may not be standing here today. So, I would like to thank the outreach team for rescuing me and the Lighthouse nurse for her support. I am doing well now.” 

Our CEO Tim Nelson recently travelled to Ethiopia to meet with our team there. He said: “It was an amazing privilege to be in Ethiopia and to meet with our team who are doing some phenomenal work, and to hear their humbling stories. I learned of Daniel, who was brought to Canaan Lighthouse straight out of exploitation. He was so severely unwell that our nurse identified he needed to be taken to hospital immediately. There he received a life-saving blood transfusion due to a strain of malaria. The doctor mentioned that arriving one day later could have been fatal. 

“This Lighthouse alone has rescued 2,731 children from exploitation in the past 17 years. 

“We are so grateful for the support of our work, which is enabling us to bring freedom to so many children, including Daniel.”  

Our team is working with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women and Social Affairs to trace the survivor’s family. Wherever possible we return children back to family-based care, supporting families to prevent children separating from them again. Find out more about Hope for Justice’s work here.

Another member of our team said: “The survivor is taking his medication on schedule, is content, and has a healthy appetite. He is deeply appreciative of what Hope for Justice has done for him.” 

*Name changed to protect identity of survivor 

young girl