老司机直播

FAITH

'He's incredible': Georgia couple fosters sick Ugandan teen just in time to save his life

Chris Starrs
Special to the Athens Banner-Herald
Olivia Ricketts-Inman with her foster son, Gideon Abiriga, in Bugembe, Uganda in September 2022.

When Olivia Ricketts-Inman looks back on the last 10 years of her life, the same word keeps popping up 鈭 miracle.

In 2014, Ricketts-Inman 老司机直播 whose family founded Prince Avenue Baptist Church and Prince Avenue Christian School 老司机直播 moved to the Republic of Uganda to volunteer for Ekisa Ministries, which works with disabled children. It was in Uganda that she met 6-year-old Gideon Abiriga, who was born in the remote village of Bujwaya and suffered from the often-fatal blood disorder sickle cell.

After a semester abroad, Ricketts-Inman returned to Athens but she couldn老司机直播檛 get Uganda or Gideon out of her mind. While a student at the University of Georgia 老司机直播 where she earned a bachelor老司机直播檚 degree in social work in 2018 and a master老司机直播檚 degree in 2019 老司机直播 she returned to Uganda in the summer and on Christmas breaks, and eventually lived there for nearly four years after graduation.

All the while, her link with Gideon grew stronger, even as he grew weaker through a variety of battles with illness.

老司机直播淲hen I moved there, we had a strong bond, and every time he老司机直播檇 get sick, I老司机直播檇 take him to hospital and we became really close,老司机直播 she said. 老司机直播淓verybody knew that with anything regarding Gideon, they老司机直播檇 come find me.老司机直播

George Inman and Olivia Ricketts-Inman with their foster son, Gideon Abiriga, in December 2023 at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where Gideon was receiving treatment. Georgia and Olivia got married at the hospital so Gideon could be part of their wedding.

老司机直播楧own to the wire老司机直播

While she lived in Uganda, Gideon endured a pair of major surgeries and Ricketts-Inman became his foster mother. She wanted to bring Gideon to Atlanta for medical treatment and before his first visit to the United States, bureaucratic red tape (and a missing birth certificate) led to an 11th hour miracle.

老司机直播淗e had to get a passport; it was the craziest process,老司机直播 she said. 老司机直播淲e probably took 30 trips to the capital and we had to go to court so I could get guardianship. They had to bend the law for me a little to be able to take him. We finally got his visa from the embassy the morning that we flew out 老司机直播 it went down to the wire.老司机直播

Over the next year, Gideon would make two more trips to Georgia, the second visit a frightening one for all concerned. In November 2023, Ricketts-Inman 老司机直播 who was scheduled to marry Augusta native George Inman on Dec. 9 老司机直播 picked Gideon up at the airport and knew something wasn老司机直播檛 right.

Stranger things in Georgia:Give your road trip some fun mystery at 'Expedition: Bigfoot!'

老司机直播淗e was in sickle cell crisis, which is common for him,老司机直播 she said. 老司机直播淗e was in pain and didn老司机直播檛 feel good. I got him home and he was feeling better. He went to bed and woke up on Nov. 14 and said he felt better but wanted to keep sleeping. A few hours later I tried to wake him up and he would not wake up. He was totally out.老司机直播

Gideon was rushed to Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital, where he had emergency surgery for a bifrontal epidural hematoma (brain bleed). He then rode a helicopter to Children老司机直播檚 Hospital of Atlanta, where he endured a second craniotomy and was in a coma for about two weeks. Ricketts-Inman said he miraculously came out of the coma with his cognitive skills intact, although a tragic residual of Gideon老司机直播檚 coma was the loss of his sight.

老司机直播淭he doctors told us they have no idea why this happened,老司机直播 she said. 老司机直播淚t could have been caused by sickle cell or just a strange genetic thing. We have no idea. If it had happened in Uganda, he would not be alive, and it all happened less than 24 hours after he landed in the United States.老司机直播

Gideon remained in the hospital for the next several months, and was present when the couple married a few days before their scheduled wedding in Athens.

老司机直播淲e asked Gideon to be in the wedding. 老司机直播e were supposed to get married in Dec. 9, 2023,老司机直播 said Ricketts-Inman. 老司机直播淥n Dec. 6, 2023, we got married at the hospital with Gideon. We technically got married with Gideon in the hospital chapel. We got him a tuxedo and rolled him down to the chapel. Then we had our big wedding on Dec. 9.老司机直播

George Inman and Olivia Ricketts-Inman with their foster son, Gideon Abiriga, in April 2024 at a wedding rehearsal dinner in Athens, Georgia.

老司机直播楬e老司机直播檚 incredible老司机直播

Realizing Gideon had little to no chance for survival in Uganda, the couple petitioned the court for guardianship and took him home to Augusta, where in March he enrolled at Westside High School. Ricketts-Inman said a decision on Gideon老司机直播檚 guardianship could come as soon as late June.

Although Gideon老司机直播檚 mother died not long after he was born, he still communicates with two older brothers in Uganda and after his residency situation is settled, he and Ricketts-Inman plan a visit. Ricketts-Inman said Gideon老司机直播檚 lack of sight has not cooled his zest for life, pointing out that he enjoys listening to movies, TV shows and audio books, enjoys playing cards and swimming.

老司机直播淗e老司机直播檚 adapted incredibly well,老司机直播 she said. 老司机直播淗e老司机直播檚 the greatest kid. Everybody that has met him would say the same. He老司机直播檚 incredible.老司机直播

Ricketts-Inman might not have chosen to begin her marriage with a 16-year-old son, but there are times when she wonders if she really had much say in the matter.

老司机直播淎 lot of people ask me how I chose to do this, but I don老司机直播檛 think I really had a choice,老司机直播 she said. 老司机直播淲hen they called me and asked if (I would foster) Gideon, I thought, 老司机直播楬ow can I say no?老司机直播 And things like that just kept happening 老司机直播 it was dominos from there. My husband and I obviously didn老司机直播檛 think we老司机直播檇 have a 16-year-old son at this point in our marriage, but here we are. And we老司机直播檙e super-happy.

Brave enough to bite into a bug?Here's a look at how, why you would eat cicadas

老司机直播淲hen I moved back here, I was constantly worried about Gideon because I had been the person who checked on him all the time. When I left, I didn老司机直播檛 know who would be checking on him. Even though the circumstances leading to all of this were hard and sad and unfortunate, now I don老司机直播檛 have to worry because I can check on him every day. He老司机直播檚 with me and he老司机直播檚 safe.老司机直播

And Gideon is anxious to one day share his story with the world and to detail the miracles that brought him to where he is today.

老司机直播淕ideon has been through a whole lot and he老司机直播檚 so wise with dealing with it,老司机直播 said Ricketts-Inman, who takes her son to weekly doctor appointments in Atlanta. 老司机直播淗e keeps saying 老司机直播業 don老司机直播檛 know why this is happened to me, but I think this is God老司机直播檚 way of wanting me to share my story and encourage other people.老司机直播 He said he wants to write a book and wants to be a speaker and tell everybody his story. He老司机直播檚 the best.老司机直播

Anyone interested in supporting Gideon can visit. His Caring Bridge page can be found at .