TORRANCE, CA - Jespa Awomah, 16, will use his right hand to shake hands for the first time in his life. The gesture will make good on a promise made three months ago by his burn and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Matthew Reiss, when Jespa arrived in Torrance from Africa.
This past October, Jespa made the journey from a small rural village in Cameroon (in Central Africa), for reconstructive surgical treatment at Torrance Memorial's Burn Center. The journey was made possible all thanks to a Facebook posting and the work of the Children's Burn Foundation.
Jespa received disfiguring injuries when he fell into a fire inside his family's hut home in Cameroon. At the time his medical treatment consisted of a few bandages at a local clinic. Remarkably he survived his injuries, but lost the use of his right arm and eye. He has also been unable to close his left eye due to scar tissue.
In 2012, Hermosa Beach resident Rashel Mereness was traveling in Africa for a mission with the non-profit Plant A Seed Africa. While in Cameroon, she met Jespa and captured video of him. She posted her video on Facebook with a plea to find him help.
Torrance Memorial Public Relations Manager Colleen Farrell, a friend of Mereness, spotted the video last year and forwarded it to the Torrance Memorial Burn Center staff. Jespa's story captured their heart, and the Children's Burn Foundation stepped in to fund his travel and medical treatment costs.
Jespa will get a first look at his new fingers and a rebuilt eyelid when bandages are removed on Monday