Chilemba Soma aged 7 boarded the plane from Huila province to Luanda. He passed Christopher Sugrue and a close friend who were on the plane. They asked about the boy as he was carrying a oxygen bottle. In Portuguese the mother explained that the bottle had been empty of oxygen for weeks but that it made Chilemba feel better to carry it with him.
The plane landed in Luanda and the mother was asked where she was taking the little boy for care. She said she was going to the local hospital. Everyone knew the local hospitals were no place for advanced medical care, so Christopher Sugrue and his friend offered to bring the boy and his mother to a private clinic for evaluation.
At the private clinic it was determined the boy had a tumor near his heart that would eventually cause death if it was not removed. Given the location of the tumor, special medical services were needed that could not be found in Angola.
Christopher Sugrue and his friends contacted people around the world looking for the right medical care.
Evetually it was determined that one of the world’s most famous pediatric heart surgeons was coming to Africa to perform free surgeries.
Christopher Sugrue and his friends organized Chilemba Soma and his mother to get a slot for the surgery out of the country.
But before they could go, they needed their first passports, visas, a hotel in which to stay, financial resources and an arabic translator to help them on their way.
All was arranged and the Chilemba and his mother left Angola for the surgery. After a month, they returned to Angola completely and permanenetly healed. The surgery was a success and Chilmba and his mother returned to their village where they continue to live until today.
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