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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rwandan Boy Comes To U.S. For Cancer Treatment

Sibo Tuyishimire, age 13, plays a violin he made during his stay in the U.S. for a bone marrow transplant. He's scheduled to return home to Rwanda later this year. (Jill Ryan/Here & Now)

Sibo Tuyishimire, age 13, plays a violin he made during his stay in the U.S. for a bone marrow transplant. He’s scheduled to return home to Rwanda later this year. (Jill Ryan/Here & Now)

Thirteen-year old Sibo Tuyishimire likes to play his homemade violin and race his remote control car, like you’d expect from a boy his age.

But unlike other kids, Sibo has a deadly form of cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Sibo is from Rwanda, but was able to come to the U.S. for a free bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital here in Boston. And he’s expected to return to Rwanda later this year.

Until then, Sibo is recovering with a host-family in Concord, Mass.

Sibo’s doctor Dr. Sara Stulac met Sibo during the six years she spent working in Rwanda for the Boston-based nonprofit Partners In Health, the organization that paid for Sibo’s trip here and arranged his free medical care.

Stulac told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer that Sibo is just one of many who suffer in Africa from cancer, a problem that’s largely not addressed.

“There’s a lot of it, it’s not being treated, and it can be treated with relatively few resources,” she said.

Stulac says that Sibo’s case, which required a trip to the U.S., is rare, and that “the vast majority of cancer patients can be treated with relatively few dollars in Rwanda.”

Stulac believes that if the continent developed a better infrastructure to deal with cancer, lives and dollars would be saved.

Facts about cancer in Africa:

  • More than two-thirds of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (Partners In Health)
  • By 2020, more than 1 million of new cancer cases will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Nature Reviews Cancer)
  • Common cancers in high-income countries are associated with reasonably high survival — prostate, breast and colorectal cancers.  Cancers with poorer prognoses — liver, stomach and esophageal cancers — are more common in less developed regions. (International Agency for Research on Cancer)
  • Case fatality from cancer is 75 percent in low-income countries and 46 percent in high-income nations

Guest:

  • Dr. Sara Stulac, Sibo’s doctor and the director of pediatrics for Partners in Health

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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