A Northern Virginia man, 24-year-old Leeban was critically injured in a terrible accident in January, 2013 after he apparently fell three stories in Rochester, MN.
He was rushed to the hospital where he went through emergency surgery, but his injuries left him severely brain damaged, in a coma. A brother to six sisters and his mother’s youngest, he was studying marketing in college in Rochester. The investigation into his death is still open.
Leeban, known as Lee, attended Annandale High School in Virginia. His sisters describe him as a caring, patient, dependable brother. A ‘friendly giant’, he loved playing basketball and football. “He has a way of effortlessly bringing people together with his infectious smile and laugh,” says his sister, Ubah.
Lee’s mother left her job as a translator in Virginia and lived with her comatose son for five months in the hospital. She was the sole caregiver for her elderly mother who she left behind. The family attends Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. She wanted to bring Lee home so she can continue to take care of her son and her mother.
In an interview with Somali Public Radio she mentioned that she has learned so much about the healthcare system through her experiences with Lee. She pleaded with the Minnesota Somali community to visit the countless Somali young men and boys, who are in hospitals and struggle alone without any visitors.
“Lee had insurance but private insurance only pays for what is absolutely necessary,” says Ubah in an interview with the Muslim Link,“even while he was in surgery, we had a social worker calling my father about transferring him to a nursing facility.”
Expenses of traumatic brain injury (TBI) were beyond what insurance covers. Options for those who cannot afford it are extremely limited, which of course decreases the quality of care needed. Physical, speech and occupational therapy are all not covered.
Family and friends of Leeban held a successful 5K Walk at Lake Fairfax Park on Sunday, May 19, 2013 to bring Leeban home to Virginia. The man’s plight, who friends describe as soft hearted, pulled in walkers from Lee’s high school, childhood friends, and others from DC, VA, NYC and as far away as Ohio.
The family declared on Thursday, June 6, 2013 that they had raised enough money to fly Leeban home and announced that he will arrive home the following week.
Even though they raised $10,000 short of their goal of $20,000, the story had reached the ears of a Muslim brother who runs a charity in Minnesota, Abdi Maaxaay.
Through Somcare and the Mahaay Foundation, Maaxaay brings Somali patients to the US for medical treatment on an air ambulance.
An air ambulance is a specially outfitted aircraft that transports injured or sick people in a medical emergency or over distances or terrain impractical for a conventional ground ambulance. Most aircraft used as air ambulances are equipped for advanced life support. This is the kind of transportation that Lee needed.
According to Lee’s sister Ubah, he offered to a cheaper price for the flight and then surprised the family with a completely free plane trip.
Lee arrived in Virginia before Ramadan, sick from the flight from Minnesota. He is now in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.
The family says that all the money collected will be used towards medical treatments which are beneficial for TBI patients but not covered by insurance (e.g., Hyperbaric oxygen therapy) and any additional costs associated with TBI's. The Walk4Lee team will also donate money to relief organizations who do work in Somalia.
In an example of universal Muslim brotherhood, the Walk4Lee campaign said that donations have come in from absolute strangers as far away as Australia and Brooklyn College Muslim Student's Association fund raised $469 on Monday night for Lee.
If you are interested in helping this cause please visit: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-us-bring-lee-home-/53840