Liberian patient reunites with Loyola neurosurgeon 36 years after life-saving procedure

Newswise – MAYWOOD, IL – On Friday, July 29, Grace Troko Schilder visited Loyola University Medical Center with her mother and cousin to find Douglas Anderson, MD, the neurosurgeon who performed life-saving surgery to remove a brain abscess when she was barely three years old.

In 1986, three-year-old Grace was living in Liberia and suffering from seizures. “The first time she had a seizure, we were very worried,” said Velma Troko, Grace’s mother. “She went from complaining of a headache to not being able to move one side of her body.”

At a local clinic, Grace was given antibiotics and was back to normal the next morning. For Grace’s parents, who were both doctors, this indicated that there might be a lesion occupying space in her head.

In an attempt to help the family, a pediatrician from Indiana visiting Liberia at the time wrote to a pediatric neurologist in Chicago about Grace’s condition. While they waited for an answer, Grace’s condition worsened as she continued to suffer from headaches, loss of appetite and weight loss. A letter eventually came back from the United States inviting them to Chicago to continue Grace’s treatment.

“As a mother and a doctor, it was scary,” Velma said. “We prayed that God would hold everything in Grace’s brain in place until we found a solution, and we prayed that she wouldn’t have seizures as we traveled from there. ‘Africa in the United States’

When they landed in Chicago at 2 p.m., they checked into a local hospital for a CT scan. Seeing the results, the pediatrician immediately called his colleague Dr. Anderson to ask him to see them. Dr. Anderson invited them to his home and, after reviewing the scans, determined that they would need to operate immediately to remove a brain abscess.

“My schedule was booked for the next two weeks, but there was this mother with her daughter and they had traveled so far to get help, and the abscess had already been causing symptoms for a month,” said Dr Anderson. “We called Loyola and arranged for them to be admitted that evening.”

At 1 a.m., less than twelve hours after arriving in the United States, Grace underwent her first surgery. Although the operation went well, Grace was not completely off the hook. “Abscesses are always dangerous; they can grow, they can burst, so they need to be treated promptly with antibiotics and frequently need to be drained to be removed in their entirety,” Dr. Anderson said. “Grace’s abscess had developed a satellite in a harder to reach area of ​​her brain, so we weren’t able to remove everything in one operation.”

“When you’re a doctor and a parent, sometimes you know too much. I can now say that sometimes ignorance can be good. Back then, I didn’t have a cell phone to call my husband or my family. We don’t could only rely on the faith and prayers we received from others,” Velma said.

Grace will undergo a second surgery before returning to Liberia six weeks later. Today Grace lives in Munich with her husband. She has had no health problems since the operations. “It’s pretty surreal to hear the stories my mom told about her experience,” Grace says. “I have no memories of that time in my life, but what drives me to be here is my gratitude and recognition of how important it was.”

Thirty-six years later, Grace returned to the United States for a reunion with Dr. Anderson. On Friday morning, July 29, 2022, Grace went to Loyola University Medical Center for a hospital tour. For Grace and her mother, the kindness they showed in 1986 means everything to them.

“We came to the United States with so few connections and everyone just welcomed us into their communities with open and loving arms,” ​​Velma said. “Everyone we met showed God’s love when they accepted us with open arms and we can only say thank you. We will never be able to thank them because they gave Grace life.”

“Coming here today and knowing that so many people have done so much for me just so I can live is one of the greatest things of all time and completely changes the way I see myself,” Grace said. “There was no limit to what Dr. Anderson and the community gave to me, and it reminds me that there is no limit to what I can give back to the world. It has always been my outlook on life, and today truly confirms that. It’s a life-changing moment and it makes me determined to share the love I’ve received.”


About Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a nationally ranked quaternary care academic system based in the western suburbs of Chicago. The three-hospital system includes Loyola University Medical Center, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital, and convenient locations providing primary care, specialty care, and immediate care services from more than 1,500 physicians in the Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola is a 547-bed licensed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center, the world’s largest burn center of Illinois, a certified comprehensive stroke center and children’s hospital. Having provided compassionate care for more than 50 years, Loyola is also training the next generation of caregivers through its academic affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Founded in 1961, Gottlieb is a 247-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with the Judd A. Weinberg Emergency Department, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care, and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research Facility at Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center. MacNeal is a 374-bed accredited teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced medical, surgical and psychiatric services, acute rehabilitation, an inpatient skilled nursing facility and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics.

For more information, visit You can also follow Loyola Medicine on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

About Trinity Health

Trinity Health is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Catholic healthcare systems. It’s a family of 115,000 colleagues and nearly 26,000 physicians and clinicians caring for diverse communities in 25 states. Recognized nationally for its care and experience, Trinity Health System includes 88 hospitals, 131 continuing care facilities, the second largest PACE program in the country, 125 urgent care facilities and many other health and wellness. Based in Livonia, Michigan, its annual operating revenue is $20.2 billion, of which $1.2 billion is donated to its communities in the form of charitable care and other health programs. community benefits.

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