Says I am no different from anyone else

ICRC Sudan: I lost my leg but I am physically fit — Faris
Faris Ibrahim

By Lawal Sherifat

Years of war and economic turmoil has damaged the healthcare system in Sudan, Hospitals and clinics often do not have enough drugs and the ones that are available are too expensive for many Sudanese to purchase. Doctors opt to leave Sudan to work abroad due to the non-payment of salaries, leaving the country with little or no health care workforce.

Many Sudanese live in areas without nearby health facilities, largely because clinics and hospitals were destroyed in conflict or decayed by chronic under-investment.

Faris Ibrahim shares the story of how he lost a leg to mycetoma. He said with the aid of prosthesis, provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and National Authority for Prosthetics and Orthotics (NAPO), he is no different than anybody else.

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Ten years ago, Faris, 26, lost his leg to an insidious tissue infection known as Mycetoma. Three years earlier, Faris’ mother passed away from heart disease, leaving him and his siblings to fend for themselves. The infection came slowly, first, his foot swelled, then his leg. Eventually, it became so painful that he could no longer walk, only crawl.

Mycetoma is caused by bacteria or fungi that enter most often through a cut in the foot or leg, early diagnosis is critical to curbing the infection before it spreads and irreversibly destroys tissue. With little investment in Mycetoma globally and Sudan’s health care system crumbling, Faris and thousands of others like him often seek treatment when the infection is so severe that the only option is amputation.

Faris eventually went to the hospital when the situation of the leg became worse. A series of tests were conducted, when the results were available, Faris was told that the infection has damaged his leg, that the leg has to be amputated.

He said “They told me that the infection had severely damaged my leg and that it needs to be amputated.” Faris’s leg was amputated to save his life.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has worked with the National Authority for Prosthetics and Orthotics (NAPO) in Sudan since 1990 to provide prostheses, orthoses, and other mobility devices and physical therapy services. Faris was fitted for his first prosthesis at this centre in 2010.

“I lost my leg, but I am physically fit,” he said. “I wanted to work with the associations [for people living with disabilities] and help them with anything. After I received my prosthetic leg, I would show up to workshops as a case study.I try my best to contribute and help students learn because they benefit other people.”

Faris was fitted with a new prosthesis that uses a polycentric knee joint in October 2010. He is the first patient at NAPO to receive this technology, which mimics a real human knee and affords him all-round move more efficiently.

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“I have never seen anything like it,” Faris said. “It is extraordinary. It is much easier and takes no longer than two minutes to put on. It gives me much more time.”

With the aid of the polycentric knee joint, the amputation of his right leg has not slowed him down yet, and he only has the intention of forging ahead.

“I never lose hope,” said Faris. “I am planning my future. I have ambitions to work in the electronics trade, continue my studies, and hopefully start a family.”

Materials were and pictures were gathered from Twitter and



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