Not even a terrorist attack has quieted a late Burbank doctor's
dream of delivering kidney hemodialysis machines to his homeland.
After months of work, family and friends of late Burbank physician
Yeneneh Betru are looking toward Sept. 11, when they expect the
Yeneneh Betru Hemodialysis Unit to be dedicated in his native
It will be the one-year anniversary of Betru's death aboard
hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the
Pentagon. Betru was 35.
Universal City Sunrise Rotary Club has stepped forward to help buy
four machines at a total of $60,000, and plans have been made for
supplies and training to use them.
"It means this dream is finally going to be fulfilled," said Earl
Gomberg, executive director for Consultants for Lung Disease, a
Burbank medical group where Betru once worked. "It was not the
easiest thing to put to together."
In the three years after his grandmother's death in Ethiopia,
Betru saved his own money to salvage six dialysis machines with the
goal of opening a clinic there. Following his death, the machines
languished in Betru's garage. Now they'll be sold, and new ones will
be bought and delivered.
Although his grandmother did not die from a kidney-related
ailment, Betru found that Ethiopia lacks machines to treat patients
who need dialysis.
The hemodialysis unit and the new machines will go to the 400-bed
Tikur Anbessa (Black Lion) Hospital in Ethiopia's capital,
"This just seemed like a natural fit for a grant to help with the
funding," said Universal City Rotary member Jim Miceli, a Burbank
resident who lived near Betru. He brought the physician's effort to
his fellow Rotarians. "It was a way to turn a tragedy into something
The Betru family is still dealing with the tragedy, but they have
seen the over- whelming support, they said.
"With my brother's demise on Sept. 11, everyone kind of took it
personally when they saw that this was a neighbor who got caught up
in it when he was trying to do something for the world," Betru's
brother, Aron, said. "I find this to be very, very helpful."