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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


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

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Reneethe1st

    So proud of what our Boston hospitals and doctors are doing in support of children around the world.  Thank you PIH for the work that you do to save lives, even one life at a time.


    Thank you for the amazing job you did!! i know the boy since he was in Rwinkwavu pediatric ward. I assisted his first treatment and follow up, i am so happy that he’s recovering well.Very impressed!!
    Thank you Dr SARA an keep up the good job as always.


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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