I’m happy to announce that Dunia will undergo his first surgical procedure at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital on January 11th. Due to his extensive injuries and subsequent scarring, Dunia will need multiple surgeries. On January 11th, a team of doctors and nurses lead by Dr. Alexander Dagum, Chairman, Department of Plastic Surgery, will operate to graft tissue necessary for future surgeries. This complex challenging surgery could take all day. The ultimate goal is an attempt to recreate new functional upper and lower lips for Dunia.
As most of you know, Dunia Sibomana and Andre Bauma were welcomed into the home of Jennifer Crean and her three children: Collin, Eian, and Grace. Andre has since returned home to his two families, his wife and kids, and his orphaned gorillas.
Staying with Jenn full time has brought Dunia a unique opportunity: to attend the Pines elementary school in Hauppauge. As of this writing, Dunia has happily settled into the school-day routine. Even better, one of Dunia’s classroom teachers is Mrs. Tamara West whose husband, Mr. Michael West, is the Director of Food Services at Stony Brook Hospital. With Michael’s help we were able to bring Dunia and Andre to the hospital for a short tour prior to Andre’s return to the DRC on December 21st.
Something to remember is that Dunia is a native Swahili speaker. He understands and can say some words in French (lessons are taught in French in school in the DRC), and can also understand and speak the language of Rwanda, where his father is from, but came here not knowing any English. Andre has been Dunia’s interpreter.
In December, my wife Laurie and I brought Dunia and Andre to Stony Brook Hospital where we were met by quite a few people who will be involved directly and indirectly in Dunia’s care. Among them were Michael and Tamara West, Dr. William Arens, a recently retired professor of Anthropology at SBU, who came with his wife Diane, and Ms. Mariam Isack, a colleague of Dr. Arens who works in the International Academics Program at SBU. Bill and Diane Arens and Mariam Isack all speak Swahili and were there to offer support in any way they could.
After our initial meeting in the hospital lobby, we were escorted up to the Pediatric unit of the hospital where Dunia met Mr. Michael Attard, a Child Life Specialist. Michael showed us the pediatric “safe room” explaining that the room’s toys and activities can be enjoyed by the unit’s hospitalized children without the interruption and stress of any medical treatments. We also met some of the unit’s nursing and auxiliary staff.
It was a special morning for all involved and we thank everyone for their kindness and generosity (Dunia was showered with attention and gifts).
I know many of you would like to visit Dunia in the hospital. As of now we do not know how long he will be in the operating room, how long he will be in recovery, and how long his hospital stay will be. We know that many of you would like to be involved but we do not want to overwhelm him with visitors this first time around. We do have volunteers that will be staying with him overnight so he will not be alone. We will keep you posted.
In the picture above, from left to right: William Arens, Mariam Isack, Laurie Klempner, Michael Attard, Michael West, Leon Klempner, Tamara West, and Diane Arens. Dunia and Andre are in front.
As always, we welcome your comments.