After surgeries at L.A. burn center, Ugandan orphan walks again

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Adolf Baguma, a Ugandan orphan unable to walk on his severely burned legs, got an incredible gift this year: Well-wishers from the United States brought him to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles. After two surgeries, Baguma’s legs are straight, and he is able to walk unassisted for the first time in years.

The boy’s journey began in June, when Los Angeles attorney Laine Wagenseller traveled on a mission to Uganda and met him while volunteering at an orphanage in Kyenjojo. Adolf, now 11, had been living there since his parents died of AIDS and his teenage aunt, who had beat him with flaming banana leaves, scarring his legs, abandoned him.


Wagenseller contacted the Children’s Burn Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that provides services for young burn victims. Every year the organization pays for full recovery services — including surgeries, physical therapy and other follow-up care — for about 200 children, according to Executive Director Carol Horvitz. The group arranged for Adolf’s visa and trip to Los Angeles.

Since he arrived last month, he has undergone two surgeries, one to release the scar tissue and stretch his compressed muscles and tendons to their full length, and a second to place a skin graft on his legs. A few days before Christmas, the boy stood and took his first steps upright, smiling from ear to ear, said Dr. Peter Grossman, medical director at the burn center.


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-- Abby Sewell