Still fulfilling a doctor's dream

Ryan Carter

BURBANK -- Six months after his death, Yeneneh Betru's dream is still

a dream.

Betru, 35, was on board American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed

into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

At the time of his death, Betru, an Ethiopian native, was living in

Burbank and working as a doctor. He was salvaging dialysis machines in

the hopes that someday they would be transported to a town in his native

land, where people with kidney problems could receive treatment.

But six months later, six salvaged machines remain in Betru's Burbank


"We want to exchange the old machines with new ones because the

hospital in Ethiopia won't except used machines," said Earl Gomberg,

executive director of Consultants for Lung Disease, a Burbank medical

group where Betru once worked.

Gomberg is one of a group of colleagues who have taken up Betru's


"We're still working on it," Gomberg said.

Gomberg and others are thrilled with the financial support they've

received. So far, more than $30,000 has been raised for a foundation set

up in Betru's name.

"The generosity has been absolutely astounding," said Beverly

Lassanske, who helps oversee the donations to the fund.

Donations have come from all over the world, including an Ethiopian

community in Minnesota, Lassanske said.

Gomberg said ultimately the money will be important because it will

help the hospital staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to maintain the


Still, it's getting the machines to Ethiopia that's proved


Betru's colleagues are trying to work out deals with dialysis machine

companies to exchange the used ones for new machines. One company has

backed out while others have been willing only to fly the machines to

Ethiopia free of charge.

Gomberg still has high hopes.

"This is something he started and he wanted to finish," Gomberg said.

"We felt like we'd like to finish it in his name."

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