A 7-year-old girl from Ethiopia is getting a second chance at life thanks to surgeons in Minnesota. On Thursday, doctors told her the procedure was a success while FOX 9 cameras were rolling.
Barkot Yitbarek Kebede was just 5 years old when she underwent surgery a year and a half ago to treat a condition called moyamoya, a vascular disease that causes strokes in children and can eventually cause death.
Without no financial means or doctors to help her, Kebede came to Minnesota with her million-dollar smile and a contagious laugh.
"I love to swing!" Kebede said.
Less than two years ago, she couldn't.
"She couldn't swing or run," Semenesh Mulugeta told FOX 9 News. "Her left leg was dragging."
That was because Kebede suffered a stroke caused by a rare neurological disorder. The family could not find a doctor in Ethiopia who could perform the type of surgery the girl needed -- and they didn't have the money either.
"Her story was full of sad for her, also for her family," Mulugeta said. "Without coming here, Barkot would have died. The doctor in Ethiopia says that. Her system all of a sudden fail."
To save the girl's life, Gillette Children's Hospital teamed up with Delta Airlines and Children's Home Society, an adoption agency where Mulugeta works, to bring Kebede to Minnesota.
In September 2011, Dr. Peter Kim performed a surgery that would give the girl a chance. A year and a half later, the family returned to Minnesota to learn whether the surgery was a success.
On Thursday morning, Kebede got an MRI that showed a significant difference from one taken just last year.
"Her MRI looks great," Kim said. "I'm very happy with that, so I think the surgery is working very well."
That news brought needed relief to Mulugeta, who had been praying for her daughter.
"I'm very much excited and so happy because she is cured," she told FOX 9 News.
When she got the news, Kebede ran to embrace the doctor she credits with saving her life.
"It's incredibly gratifying, especially to treat somebody who might not have had treatment at all," Kim said.
Now, Kebede is back to being a typical 7-year-old. Fittingly, Barkot means "blessed," which is even more poignant now for a family that is definitely feeling it.
"We are so excited. God's prepared all this for us," Mulugeta said.
While nothing is 100 percent certain, Kim told FOX 9 News he is confident Kebede will not have any additional problems; however, the family is not sure when the two will return to Ethiopia because two months ago, Mulugeta learned she has a brain tumor and cannot be treated in her home country. Once again, she's praying for help in the states.