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Malaria Effect:  Four Limbs lost

The Dawn Dubsky Story

In 2008, five days after Dawn Dubsky, then an athletic 32 year old Chicago pediatric nurse at the Children’s Hospital in Chicago who runs marathons returned from a trip to Ghana in Africa, she checked into a Chicago hospital emergency room with a headache and a 103-degree fever that would change her life forever.  She had been stricken by malaria, the mosquito-borne illness problem in developing countries. The disease triggered organ failure, a blood pressure crash, and clotting in the veins and arteries of her extremities.

She was transferred to the University of Chicago Medical Center for surgery under the care of Dr. David Gottlieb, a burn unit surgeon.

The muscle in Dawn’s lower arms and legs was dead and all four of her limbs had to be amputated.  Three days later, Dr. Gottlieb removed Dubsky's legs just below the knees, and her arms just below the elbows. A dozen more surgeries, aimed at preserving the joints and sealing the wounds, would follow.

Dawn’s initial worries were whether her boyfriend would leave her and whether she'd never be able to have children, despite the doctors' insistence that her reproductive system was unharmed.

In May 2008, after 2 1/2 months at the University of Chicago, Dawn was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  She had been fitted with prosthetic arms and artificial legs.

Dawn is currently a PHD student at the University of Illinois in Chicago.  She has started  America Against Malaria, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization developed to aid in the combat against malaria. 3,000 children die per day in Africa due to malaria.

In a conversation with the President of the Ghana National Council, Mr. Ebenezer Antwi-Nsiah, she expressed her passion to help other people, especially children to avoid the devastation of malaria.  Her organization would send a representative to Ghana to help educate both Ghanaian and visitors to the country about Malaria.  She informed the president that in sharing her story Ghanaians do not seem to have encountered such extreme harm that Malaria can cause and the president agreed.

Dawn will be sharing her story at the 27th annual Ghanaian culture festival, Ghanafest to be held in Washington Park, 5600 S. Russell Drive in Chicago on July 25, 2015.    

For more information on America Against Malaria, go to: americaagainstmalaria.org