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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Update on Lydia

Lydia before surgery
July 16, 2011: Latest Report from Captain Yaw:

Dear Friends and supporters of Lydia's surgery,

Last night we sat with Lydia, our last visit to her before travelling to the USA for the launch of 'The Calling' a documentary about what we do here, starring Lydia! The Calling.

Lydia managed to lift and manoeuvre around 250g with her right arm, the grip on her hand not quite enough to hold it, so a hook was made in the 'chocolate peanuts' bag to allow her to lock it on her finger with her thumb. The range of movement of her arm is such that, once her hand surgery is completed later this year, she should be able to operate all of the aircraft controls without modifications.

We sat with her and looked at the photos of her arm. The skin is growing back in islands on most of it, but seems remarkably 'lacking' on the rear of her elbow. I looked into her brown eyes, set perfectly above the squeezable cheeks that are her hallmark, and reminded her 'You are like an airplane, and we need to fix your wing... now, if you were the engineer and you had to make a decision on this patch without skin what would you do?' [Remember, the metal sheet over an aircraft ribs is called 'skin'.]

Lydia looked down, frowned and raised her head slowly, caressing her right arm with her incredibly strong left one. Without a smile, and moist eyes she expressed 'can we wait to see if it grows.', we explained that it may, but the doctor would have to look at it and help make that decision over this weekend. Straightening her shoulders, she said 'then if it is needed, I would need more surgery'. There was no sign of her usual smile, that cheesy heart warming 'Lydia smile' that propels us onwards in this re-constructive epic.

We explained that, IF another skin graft was needed it would not be as big a deal as the earlier surgery and the amount of skin to be taken from her other leg would be small (er). Her look was not one of a convinced person. I felt like a dirty rag on the floor having to have this conversation with this gemstone of a young person. However, I cannot be present to have that conversation should it be the case, and it is more than 50% likely to be the case, from what we can see. Patricia stood behind Lydia, her hand draped onto the little shoulder, face down-turned. These two young women, aviatrices to the core, both normally as bright as the midday sun, ready to fly as long as the fuel will last, both grounded in emotion of the challenges that still lie ahead.

Fortunately for me, Alberta the amazing Physio, sat with us, Alberta is our lifeline and constant hand holder (and hand massager and hand exerciser) on this voyage. Alberta has the 'real spirit of caring', and she provides informed strength and encouragement, and can relate to the two younger West African sistas. Alberta offered her words of reassurance and her hugs of caring - and we all retook our positions of strength. Our smiles slowly returning to our faces and our stoic spirits plugged back into our sources of motivation - that of changing lives, one flight at a time.

We talked about the work to be done in rural Ghana and the nett outcomes of all of these challenges, realising that Alberta and Dr Ampomah are now woven into the Medicine on the Move fabric, our own special MoM Kente hand woven with the shuttles weaving more and more lives into our living strips of cloth, stitching them together to create a blanket of caring support for more and more people, the colours varied and the texture diverse.

Never in all my wildest thoughts and dreams could I have imagined the effect on so many lives of a little girl, a very special little girl who, over the past year, has learned so much and demonstrated such a strength of character - who has become a pacemaker for many of our activities - daily reminding us that 'the time to make it happen is NOW', every smile and every hug letting us feel the love that is in the people we need to reach, many of them never having had any health education, and to do all that is possible in the encouragement of community health empowerment...

We have been able to complete half of one of the accommodation units (well it will be this week), meaning that Lydia will be able to move to airfield into a clean and suitable home in the girls hostel. WE hope to raise the funds to pay the balance of Lydia's surgery, complete the hostels, build a trauma clinic, complete the 4 seat ambulance and kick start massively the work on the lake during the coming weeks.

Thank YOU for the support you have given,not only financial, but equally and in may ways more importantly in the giving of your time, provision of transport, accommodation for weary travellers, meals, prayers and those so so so valuable words of encouragement that help us to keep on doing what we do - and you are a part of it. For those who have been able to visit Lydia, it has meant so much to her, IF you would like to visit her, especially since we cannot provide visits as we have now we are travelling, she is in the Re-constructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Unit at Korle Bu - it is behind the Maternity block... (directions below) - just ask for the little pilot - all of the staff know that she flies (and is teaching them all their check lists!)

Have a great weekend.

Regards from the MoM Ghana Team

To get to Korle Bu Hospital, go from Kwame Nkrumah circle, towards Obsetsebi Lamptey Circle, keep going straight (About 3km) till you can see the red and white James Town Lighthouse to the left and the road past that last traffic light bears right. TURN RIGHT AT THE LIGHT do not go over that light!!!! ... Korle bu is on the right after about 1,5km

Captain Yaw reports....

"Lydia is currently in and out of consciousness - she was calling
'Alpha Alpha Runway 19 last night... she has to return for flap
transfers from thigh and back tomorrow... We really appreciate the
team support! Thank you all!"

Dr. Ampomah

"Dr Ampomah - appears to live between the ward and the theatre... really is a lovely chap - THANKS RESURG AFRICA..."

Our little butterfly with her injured wing will be flying soon!

Enjoy the Journey!
~ Karlene


  1. Hang in there, Lydia. We're all pulling for you!

  2. Thank you Linda, and Jenny! Me too!!!

  3. Have there been any more updates since then? Keep thinking about Lydia and wishing her the best. :)

  4. Kstovold... Yes, I will update tomorrow~ Just got another report.


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