Oheneba Boachie-Adjei was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1950. Oheneba fell gravely ill when he was only six years old. He was cured by a locally-born, Western-trained physician and vowed that he too would dedicate his life to saving others. He emigrated from Ghana to the USA in the early 1970s as a 21-year old with only $12 in his pocket. In 1976, Mr. Boachie-Adjei graduated with Honors (summa cum laude) from Brooklyn College in New York. In 1980, Dr. Boachie-Adjei graduated from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons with his MD.
Dr. Boachie-Adjei went on to complete a fellowship in orthopedic pathology at the top ranked Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. Eventually he shifted his focus to the spine sub-specialty and completed a spine fellowship at the Twin Cities Scoliosis Center and Minnesota Spine Center. Dr. Boachie-Adjei has published and lectured extensively on spine surgery and invented several devices used for spine surgery. In 1995 he became the Chief of the Scoliosis Service at HSS and a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. He also served as an attending surgeon at HSS and New York Presbyterian Hospital.
In 1998, Dr. Boachie-Adjei founded FOCOS (Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine) as a way to provide orthopedic care, which includes treatment of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, to the people of Ghana. For eight years, Dr. Boachie-Adjei provided this care by leading teams of volunteers from around the world four times per year to Ghana. During this time Dr. Boachie-Adjei also traveled to other parts of the world to treat adult and pediatric patients and became a world-renowned specialist in complex spine deformities.
In 2001, a group of physicians in New York founded the West African Health Foundation (WAHF), to improve health care through wellness education, disease prevention and medical missions. Dr. Boachie-Adjei is one of six WAHF Board Members. He serves as the organization’s Treasurer. The WAHF is seeking to build an excellent hospital in the Juaben Traditional Area, near Kumasi. Columbia University has been providing some support.
In 2012, Dr. Boachie-Adjei opened FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. FOCOS is one of very few state-of-the-art, full service specialty hospitals in all of Africa. The FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital is equipped with two operating theaters, an outpatient clinic, laboratory, physiotherapy center, radiology center, and patient wards.
Dr. Boachie-Adjei and other donors have raised more than $16 million for FOCOS. He and those assisting him have completed more than 1,250 complex spine and joint surgeries and they have treated more than 30,000 patients. FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital is also an important teaching facility for the education of local surgeons and caregivers. Dr. Boachie-Adjei’s goal is to identify orthopedic neurosurgeons interested in pursuing the same specialty that he has and to train them.
In mid-2014, Dr. Boachie-Adjei retired from his private practice at HSS and fulfilled his goal of returning to Ghana. He currently serves as the Chief Surgeon at the FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital. Dr. Boachie-Adjei remains President of the FOCOS USA Board of Directors and intends to return to HSS as needed to treat patients in the USA.
Dr. Boachie-Adjei is the recipient of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons’ Humanitarian Award, the Science and Peace Gold Medal from Albert Schweitzer International University, and the Wholeness Life Award from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). He was featured in 2006 on the Discovery Channel documentary “Surgery Saved My Life” and, in 2015, on CNN’s African Voices.
Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Dr. Boachie-Adjei and FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital been so successful?
Some key characteristics come to mind:
Dr. Boachie-Adjei had a SPECIFIC AIM. He sought to give Ghana an EXCELLENT specialty hospital that would serve as a training ground for others. He worked over the LONG-TERM to reach his goal. He established FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital, a world-class facility that serves not only Ghanaians, but patients from across the continent seeking specialized surgery and care.
His efforts have INSPIRED OTHERS to fundraise and volunteer. Medical professionals have volunteered for many years with FOCOS and some have even moved to Ghana to serve at FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital.