My name is Dorothy Animah Anning, a 25-year-old Physician Assistant graduate of Presbyterian University College, Ghana. I was born to Pastor Charles Owusu Anning and Mrs. Comfort Owusu Anning on March 10, 1994. I was about 5 years old when my parents noticed that my right eye was getting bigger than the left. They took me to so many recognized Hospitals and Eye clinics where I was diagnosed with a tumor but none of them could cure me since they could not identify what kind of tumor I had. My right eye and forehead kept getting bigger as I grew, it became so serious that my right face became disfigured, my jaw and nose became crooked and shifted downwards. But this did not stop me from going to school since my vision was to become a Doctor.
I was a cute lively little girl, whom everyone adored, but after the condition, people became scared of me, they ran away anytime they met me on the street. No one wanted to sit beside me in a car and most parents did not want their children to play with me because they thought the disease would be transferred to them. I could never walk with my face up, and I had to cover my face with a book anytime I walked in and out of school.
This was partly because most of the children I met on the way to school teased and laughed at me. Not satisfied with that, they would also call others to come around to look at me and laugh as well. I could not go to functions and gatherings without everyone staring at me. It was so uncomfortable and unbearable.
As a result, I often hid or stayed in my room and cried, asking God why He had brought me to this earth to suffer. I questioned God so many times and wondered why my parents could pray for other sick people to get healed, but could not heal me of my ailment after several sessions of intensive prayer.
During my predicament, the only places that I felt comfortable and happy were the school and the church. I enjoyed attending school because, although I was deformed, I was very intelligent. In fact, I topped my class from the primary level all the way to Junior High School. I was also very good at creative arts.
For this reason, I was loved by my friends and teachers. In addition, I loved to memorize Bible verses. Also, anytime the opportunity was presented, I sang in church because I also have a great voice. I love to sing and to draw. Anytime I felt sad or lonely, I resorted to singing or drawing and that always made me happy.
Through my struggles with this rare disease, I knew deep in my heart that I would be healed one day, at least before I go to Senior High School. I believed that my name “Dorothy”, which means God’s Gift, was given to me for a reason. I believed that I am indeed “God’s Gift”, and as a result of this, I shall not die, but surely live because God’s gifts are irrevocable.
At the age of 13, Apostle Dr. Alfred Koduah, the then General Secretary of The Church of Pentecost, visited our station, the Sefwi Kaase District, which was then under Sefwi Wiawso Area. After our encounter, he took particular interest in my situation and decided to seek every possible means to have me cured.
He secured an appointment for us with his friend Dr. Wiafe Boateng, an Eye Specialist, who identified that I had a Cranial Tumor. He explained that the tumor is located right behind my eye socket, hence, as it grew, it pushed my eye and skull out. Dr. Boateng took pictures and contacted other doctors outside the country to arrange for an immediate operation. The Church of Pentecost decided to fund the Surgery which was to be done at Atlanta Georgia in the United States of America. Miraculously, God intervened and made a way where there seemed to be no way.
Dr. Wiafe contacted Pam Rundle, the founder of Children’s Cross Connection International, a non-profitable organization in Atlanta that takes care of the health needs of children in developing countries, and he offered to fund all my expenses including travel expenses and even gave us a host family to stay and a car for all hospital appointments. For this reason, the Church only had to provide some money for our (my mother and I) upkeep.
Lo and behold, in April 2008, my mother and I (then a 14-year old girl), went to Atlanta Georgia to meet the doctors in Piedmont Hospital. After their initial analysis of the situation, they said my condition was a very difficult and delicate one.
However, Dr. James Robinson, a Neurosurgeon, was intrigued by my condition and was eager to help me at all cost.
Dr. Robinson later explained that my condition was both a cosmetic deformity and a life-threatening one that required immediate surgery because any further delay could result in my death.
He took a biopsy, films and medical information of the condition for review at a meeting of the American Association of Neurosurgeons. They admitted that it was an unusual case and most of the doctors confessed to never seeing anything like that before. One neurosurgeon, Dr. Ossama Al-Mefty told him he believed that my condition was Cystic fibrous dysplasia, an extremely rare type of Brain tumor which affects the bone in the skull and often leads to compression of the optic nerve. This meant that if it was treated with radiation, there is a 50-50 chance of it turning into Cancer, which would inevitably be fatal. At that point, it seemed there was nothing that could be done about the condition. The situation seemed very hopeless, but once again I called on God to intervene and make a way.
Dr. James Robinson was therefore left with only one option to cure me, that is, to cut my head open and remove or take out the whole tumordeformed skull while making sure he does not cut the brain. It was going to be a very delicate process because any mistake could be very fatal. Knowing what was at stake, Dr. Robinson took me sightseeing the day before the surgery to enable me to take my mind off the impending operation. The complications of the surgery stated on the consent form were numerous, yet my mother and I signed the consent form without any fear because we knew God was with me. The removal of the tumor took two days. I underwent two separate surgical operations during this process, the first lasted 11 hours, and the second took 12 hours, making it a total of 23 hours. Dr. Farzad Nahai, on his part, conducted a plastic surgery where an artificial bone was formed and placed in my right skull. In all, I underwent about six major and minor operations in my 6-month stay in the US before returning to Ghana.
To the glory of God, I now walk with my head up, knowing that I look beautiful. Now, no one is scared of me like before.
God has kept the covenant I had with Him before entering the theatre room, that as long as I remain pure and faithful to Him, He will bless me with every spiritual gifting, grace and favour and he will take me to higher places. He has indeed healed me and brought me back to Ghana safely. I did not die but now I live and proclaim His goodness to the world.
Today, by the grace of God, I am a Physician Assistant. My vision of helping the sick has indeed come to pass. God did all this through my parents, Shelly Dollar (Making the Grade), Lorna King (a nurse) and Dr. Robinson.
What a God we serve. Dr. Robinson even confessed that my case is his biggest accomplishment during his 30-year practice as a Surgeon. He has now taken me as a daughter and even flew all the way to Ghana for my graduation in 2018 (This was his first visit to the continent of Africa).
Dear reader, I just want to encourage you with my story. The God we serve is a Miracle Worker and a Promise Keeper. Keep trusting Him and He will surely turn your life around.
Written by: Dorothy Animah Anning