MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mid-South welcomed a teenager from Central Asia this summer and wrapped her up tightly with tender, loving care.
The 13-year-old has undergone three life-saving and life-changing surgeries and has felt the love of the Mid-South in a powerful way.
Action News 5 showed you the GoFundMe request the night Shabbona arrived on August 8. The orphan’s story touched a lot of hearts.
”We received a lot of gifts from that. It’s not just Americans who gave, not just the Mid-South. It reached all the way around the world,” said philanthropist Dan Patterson.
Patterson met Shabbona in an orphanage in Uzbekistan where his Memphis-based company, Silverleafe International, does business.
The girl had a dangerous mass of veins growing under her face that threatened to grow into her brain, cause a stroke, and take her life.
Uzbek doctors had no way to treat Shabbona.
Patterson knew physicians at Le Bonheur and Semmes Murphy Clinic could help.
”Thanks to Dan, I think he changed the whole life of Shabbona. And it’s not only treatment. What we have seen here every day is she’s changing. She never thought it’s going to happen in her life, but it’s happening,” translator Beck Niyazov said.
Shabbona’s three Memphis surgeries were a success!
”I’d like to say thank you Dr. Elijovich and all the best. Great job,” Shabbona said.
The teenager and her chaperone, an Uzbek nurse named Surayyo Esanova, have enjoyed the hospitality of FedEx Family House at Le Bonheur and the warm embrace of people everywhere they’ve visited in the Mid-South.
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“We just fell in love with people, with culture. If we talk about Shabbona, she’s changed a lot. She looks pretty now,” Esanova said.
Uzbekistan sits in Central Asia, nearly 7,000 miles from Memphis.
Patterson’s company sponsors a soccer team there that cheered Shabbona on during her trio of Memphis surgeries.
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”Even though we might be worlds apart, we’re very, very similar in our love for each other, the richness of our history,” Patterson said.
Patterson says many doctors and generous people stepped up for Shabbona who may be just the first of many Uzbek children receiving Memphis’ medicinal mercy.
”We’re looking towards looking at other children and orphans we can help,” Patterson said.
Doctors say after three surgeries, it will take months for the swelling in Shabbona’s face to go down.
As she matures, she may have to return to Memphis for more treatment, but for now, thanks to many people, Shabbona can have a normal life!
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