Bend group facilitates life-saving surgeries for babies in Ethiopia

Lifesaving equipment and supplies recently delivered in Ethiopia by a local Bend group are being used to provide surgeries for babies born with neural tube defects such as Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida.

ReachAnother Foundation volunteers from Bend traveled to Ethiopia to build relationships, provide training, evaluate programs and assess surgical practices for children born with neural tube defects.

“Thirty doctors, medical workers, education specialists, and others volunteered to join our mission to make possible the donation of supplies and training,” said Marinus Koning, MD, FACS, founder and Medical Director of ReachAnother Foundation.

“Our goal is to train neurosurgeons, facilitate corrective treatment and make these babies a surgical priority,” said Koning. “It is our plan to assist medical teams in Ethiopia over the next five years to provide lifesaving surgery to more than 5,000 babies at the cost of only $150 per child,” he said.

A common operation in America for babies with Hydrocephalus (water on the brain) was previously unknown in Ethiopia where babies with this condition were believed cursed and allowed to die as the condition progressed.

Over the last seven years ReachAnother Foundation has worked with private and university hospitals in Ethiopia to train neurosurgeons to use a shunt procedure that allows children with Hydrocephalus to grow up and have productive lives.

In cooperation with Ethiopian neurosurgeons Drs. Hagos, Abat and Mersha, the first graduates from Addis Ababa University’s neurosurgeon training program, RAF launched a Hydrocephalus Campaign for Ethiopia in 2011, an innovative initiative that utilizes local operating room facilities on weekends for surgery on these overlooked babies.

By the end of 2015, RAF provided funds for surgeries on more than 1000 babies.  ReachAnother Foundation’s reputation and successes have caused the waiting list for these surgeries to grow.

“The need to expand is critical,” said Koning. “The good news is that the Ethiopian Ministry of Health has ordered a similar initiative to be started in an additional hospital in Addis,” said Koning. “We are also talking to several newly graduated neurosurgeons about implementing our program in other parts of Ethiopia,” he said.

The ReachAnother Foundation provides consultation, collaboration and funding for a neurosurgeon training program to increase the supply of neurosurgeons in the country. RAF then provides financial support for indigent children’s surgeries to allow them to grow into contributing members of their communities.

ReachAnother Foundation is a humanitarian organization based in Bend. For more information about ReachAnother Foundation, please contact Dr. Marinus Koning at or by phone at 541-325-3668.

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