By Matthew Walberg Chicago Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A young woman from the midwest whose life mission was to help children in Africa, died of Malaria last week in Ghana.
Meghan Liddy had been sick with malaria before, but this time it was different.
Liddy, who'd just turned 25, was mourning the death of an infant boy, Kofi, she was fostering in Kumasi, Ghana, when she became ill.
"I've been hospitalized with malaria and it's kinda seriously kicking my butt along with lots of other horrible things happening this week," Liddy wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday, Oct. 31. "Please if you could send good vibes prayers and whatever else you got."
It was her last post on her page, but the family continued to receive news from her friends in Ghana, and it was not good.
"We found out that her kidneys weren't doing very well, and then it literally spiraled," Liddy's aunt, Trisha Hume Steele, told the Tribune. "By Thursday, that's when we kind of started finding out hey, she's got the kidney issue, deep vein thrombosis, a pulmonary embolism and was septic."
Steele said the family began trying to make arrangements to have her transported back to the U.S. in the event her condition stabilized. But on Friday morning, the family learned that she died.
Steele said she believes her niece's health was compromised by grieving over the loss of Kofi, a baby boy with cerebral palsy whom she had been fostering.
"He actually died the day before she went to the hospital," Steele, said, her voice strained with emotion. "I'm sure that's why her immune system was down. She'd had malaria before and had recovered just fine."
Liddy had taken a mission trip to Uganda when she was 18. From the moment she returned home, it was her goal to go back to Africa.
"She took that mission trip to Uganda and literally fell in love with the people and the land," Steele said.
"Between two jobs and fundraising, she raised $20,000 all on her own."
She went back to Uganda at 19 and stayed there for about a year, working with various nongovernmental organizations. But then a friend who was working in Ghana with special needs children contacted her, and Liddy decided to move to the West African nation to join the friend.
She soon began fostering two girls, Rhoda and Priscilla, now 11 and 8 years old, and was in the process of adopting them. Her Facebook page is filled with pictures and parenting humor.
"Me: staring at Priscilla trying to figure out why she looks so weird," Liddy wrote in an Oct. 3 post. "Stares for at least a minute ... Priscilla : ALRIGHT I SHAVED MY EYEBROWS OK... Me : has flashbacks to every time I thought I could cut bangs or shape my eyebrows as a kid."
Steele said her niece had a joyful personality, but also a strong will and strong sense of independence. Liddy's life was difficult during her teenage years, but she really found herself when she left for Africa.
"She wasn't afraid of life," her aunt said. "(She) definitely took the sorrow and pain that happened during those years and said, 'I'm going to make a better life, make a better world, and I'm not going to let what happened to me and my family hinder what I want to do.' I think once she went to Africa, she found her peace and her love."
Liddy had not yet been able to complete the adoption process for Priscilla and Rhoda, so their futures are unknown, Steele said. For now, the girls are being cared for by Liddy's friends.
The family started a GoFundMe page, initially intended to defray the cost of getting her home for treatment, but now for the purpose of returning her remains from Ghana. The fund has received donations of just over $22,000.
She will be buried with other family members in Omaha, Neb., Steele said. But it could be weeks before her body is returned to the U.S.
"She lived an amazing life," Hume Steele said. "Yes, it was short, but what a difference she made."