In eastern Nepal, in the Ilam District, there is a boy named Santosh. Four years ago, when Santosh was only 7, he was in a bad fire accident. Santosh fell into the household fire, possibly due to his epilepsy and the occasional seizures he has. After the accident, the open wounds on his arms closed up, but without proper care for these injuries, the skin on his arms tightened up as it healed and fused his arms to his torso. His left arm especially was left useless, drawn up like a chicken wing at a 45-degree angle, bound tightly to his ribs. Santosh’s parents thought about their son’s future and wondered how there might be any hope at all.
This past February, however, things changed for Santosh. Our international medical partners in Nepal were able to treat Santosh and provide him with the reconstructive surgical care and therapy he needed. The surgery separated his arms from his torso and opened his left arm at the elbow. Skin grafts were used to cover the exposed tissue.
Santosh’s world has changed completely since his surgery. Our international medical partner, hand therapist Mohan Dangol, is helping Santosh with exercises to strengthen his new arm, further restoring its function. He also taught him how to take care of his arm so that scars do not form again and restrict his movement.
So far, Santosh’s results have been excellent. Living with his burn scar contractures, Santosh couldn’t even wear a shirt. He could not use his left hand at all, and carrying anything was impossible. Now, each day that he gets to push his arm through the sleeve of a normal t-shirt is a joy. Santosh is even able to help his family with the household chores and helps his parents carry water.
Santosh's story is just one example of the ways reconstructive surgical care and related care give the children and adults we treat a new chance at an independent, productive life.
On clinic day in Cox's Bazar, the ReSurge surgical team of Bangladeshi plastic surgeons, US medical volunteers, our Nepali hand therapist and local medical staff at Hope Hospital evaluated more than 73 disabled patients.
Many were returning patients and familiar faces from last year. Some of the returning patients will require more surgery, and others came in for a check-up or to receive further physical therapy.
Nearly 40 patients are now scheduled for burn reconstruction surgery, making for a busy two weeks.
Our first patient on the trip was 9-year-old Rifat. When Rifat was one month old, he was sleeping under a mosquito net when a strong gust of wind blew through a window in his room, knocking a kerosene lamp over. The net he was sleeping under caught fire, leaving Rifat with severe burns.
On and off for two years, he received very limited treatment at a local hospital. Because the treatment was inadequate, disabling burn scar contractures needlessly formed, making his arms and hands almost unusable. If he had received even a modest appropriate intervention earlier, he never would have developed such disabilities.
Physicians at the hospital were not able to help him with the reconstructive surgery he needed, despite his father going there and trying for seven years – but thankfully, our team was able to provide it, and Rifat should have better function soon. He will need further surgery, and ReSurge's surgical outreach program director, Dr. Shafquat Khundkar, will provide it.
Rifat’s story may sound familiar to our regular readers, as it is similar to most of our other patients with disabling burn injuries, as well as the many who wait for the chance to have their life forever changed through surgical care.
Stay tuned for more stories from the Bangladesh team in the weeks to come.
ReSurge is proud to work with some of the most renown doctors in the world. Many of our international medical partners are regarded as the premier surgeons in their countries, and some of our dedicated volunteers have significantly shaped the landscape of medicine during their careers. One such volunteer, Dr. George Gregory, who is ReSurge's anesthesia director, was recently awarded the ReStoring Hope award at ReSurge's seventh annual Transformations Gala. Following the event, an article featuring Dr. Gregory was published in the San Jose Mercury News subsidiary, The Sunnyvale Sun.
Be sure to check out this great piece and join us in congratulating Dr. Gregory on the recognition.
We have a team on the ground and hard at work in Bangladesh!
Over the weekend, medical volunteers from the US traveled to Bangladesh and met up with our local medical partners in Dhaka who provide surgical care year-round in the country.
Together, the group traveled to the southern coastal city of Cox's Bazar, where they will be performing surgeries for the next two weeks.
The surgeons on the team are Drs. Shafquat Khundkar, Farzana Ibrahim and Iftekhar Mannan - all surgeons from our year-round Surgical Outreach Program in Dhaka. They are joined by anesthesiologists Drs. Deb Rusy and Les Proctor from Wisconsin and Dr. Naimul Hague from Dhaka; OR nurse Frankie Snyder and recovery room nurse Elise Reay-Ellers, both from Washington state; pediatrician Dr. Evan Bloom from California; physical therapist Mohan Dangol from our Surgical Outreach Program in Nepal; and coordinator/translator Mustahid Quazi from California. ReSurge's chief communications and advocacy officer, Sara Anderson, has also joined the team.
It's a great team that is already doing great work! Tonmoy, one of our past patients from Dhaka, has also joined the team and volunteered to help in Cox's Bazar.
Stay tuned for more updates from the team as they begin surgery.
ReSurge and more than 100 other academic and surgical organizations recently united to call on the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, USAID and other global health leaders to include surgical care as part of the Global Reference List of 100 Core Health Indicators.
These indicators are important because they are intended to reflect global health priorities and to coordinate global monitoring and evaluation standards.
Currently, the only international indicator pertaining to surgical care is “surgical wound infection rate.” Critical factors such as surgical access, volume, safety, workforce or financial protection are currently not being tracked. In a letter published in The Lancet Journal, ReSurge and others requested that the indicators be expanded to include these important aspects.
“As much as 11-30 percent of the global burden of disease requires surgical care and/or anesthesia management, a figure that underscores the fundamental role of surgery as part of essential health care. Yet the current list of proposed indicators fails to reflect the integral role of surgical care and anesthesia as part of universal health coverage and essential health service goals,” wrote the lead author of the letter, Dr. Emmanuel Malabo Makasa, Health Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations.
This action is one of the first united efforts by the G4 Alliance, a new global surgery coalition dedicated to advocating on behalf of the neglected surgical patient and improving surgical care worldwide. ReSurge is a leading member of this global surgery alliance.
Five-year-old Jacob is a very bright boy living near Lusaka, Zambia. He’s friendly, outgoing and likes to play football. But life for Jacob hasn’t been carefree. His father works away far away from his home and his mother died last year. With no other brothers or sisters, he was left all alone. Luckily, his aunt took him in and he now lives with her and his cousins. With no income, Jacob’s aunt struggles to make ends meet and last year, Jacob’s cousin had to drop out of school. But this has only been one of his aunt’s many worries.
When Jacob was just a baby, his mother was carrying him on her back, wrapped in the traditional chitenge cloth. She was standing near an open fire when the chitenge came untied and Jacob slipped off her back and into the fire, sustaining severe burn injuries on his arms, face and torso. Though he was taken to the hospital to receive treatment for his wounds, after they healed, they developed tight scar tissue which drew his elbows and wrists closed, making it impossible to extend his arms straight.
His older cousin, Loveness, age 23, has helped raise Jacob and helped take care of him after his injury. She spoke of the difficulties he faced without the use of his arms.
“He couldn’t use his arms at all and had to be helped with everything. He couldn’t get dressed by himself or pick anything up. Even eating was difficult for him.”
Jacob’s aunt was desperate to find help, so she took him to the Zambian-Italian Orthopedic Hospital where ReSurge's international medical partner, Dr. Goran Jovic, provides reconstructive surgery to patients.
Goran told her that he could help Jacob with reconstructive surgery and that the surgery would be free. Jacob’s aunt couldn’t believe it—this was a second chance for Jacob.
Since then, Goran has performed two surgeries for Jacob. He has regained full function in both of his arms and wrists, which has changed his life. Recently, Jacob started his first day of school. Once reliant on others for everything, Jacob’s surgeries have given him an opportunity to grow up with confidence and independence.
While Jadiel’s mother was pregnant with him, she went to have her regular prenatal checkup at the local clinic and underwent a routine ultrasound. It was then that she learned her first child would be born with a cleft lip and palate. She was sad but knew she had to be strong for her son, so she immediately asked about options to help Jadiel. She was referred to a local charity run by ReSurge's international medical partner, Dr. Jorge Palacios, called “Fundacion Rostros Felices” or the “Happy Faces Foundation.”
Jadiel’s mother went and met with Jorge and learned about an innovative pre-operative treatment being used for infants with cleft palates called nasoalveolar molding or NAM. NAM is a procedure used to help align an infant’s gums, bone and nose before surgery is performed to repair a cleft lip and palate. It alleviates the tension at the surgery site, which helps improve the surgical result and often reduces the total number of surgeries the child needs over the course of his or her life.
Jadiel began NAM treatment when he was only 15 days old. The treatment allowed him to then have a successful cleft surgery shortly thereafter.
Today, Jadiel’s smile is brighter than ever, just like his future.
We presented Russ Fuller with our William C. Lazier Leadership Award in recognition of his support and leadership as a member of the ReSurge board of directors for 10 years and as board chair for the last four years. Russ has been a dedicated advocate and supporter since 2001, and his deep devotion to our patients around the world is an inspiration.
ReSurge International's second South Asian conference was a resounding success.
Expert surgeons, anesthesiologists, orthodontists and other specialists from around the world traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, this week for three days of scientific presentations and discussions on how to improve regional collaboration and exchange to expand access to reconstructive surgical care for children and adults who are underserved in the region.
About 150 delegates attended the conference, traveling from more than 10 countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, India, Australia, the UK, and the US.
The Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal inaugurates the conference. In addition to being a supporter of Dr. Shankar Rai and his team’s work through our Surgical Outreach Program, the Chief Secretary also has publicly volunteered to be the nation’s first skin donor for Dr. Rai’s new skin bank.
Drs. Yogi and Kush Aeron, directors of our Surgical Outreach Program in Dehradun, India, give a presentation at the conference
ReSurge partners: dentist Dr. Ranju Giri, speech therapist Ruchi Koirala, and surgeon Dr. Pramila Shakya
Dr. Shankar Rai, co-director of our Surgical Outreach Program in Kathmandu, presents on caring for burn patients in Nepal
ReSurge guests Dr. Rick Redett and Dr. David Megee discuss a presentation
Dr. Iftekar Mannan, a ReSurge international medical partner from Bangladesh, listens to a presentation
The Chief Secretary of Nepal, Dr. Shankar Rai and the CEO of phect-Nepal light a ceremonial candle at the conference inauguration
Way out in the western province of Zambia, there is a shy 12-year-old boy who likes football and swimming in flood waters during rainy season – a boy whose life is about to change.
Likezo waits quietly on an old wooden bench with his aunt to be admitted to the ward of Lewanika General Hospital. He was just told by ReSurge's surgical outreach program director, Dr. Goran Jovic, that tomorrow he will have surgery to repair his cleft lip.
Life has not been easy for Likezo, whose mother passed away in 2008. While Likezo's father does his best raising his son, he suffered from an illness when he was young which left him unable to walk or work. The two of them rarely leave the village. Despite the difficulties he has already faced, Likezo says he has good friends but often finds himself wishing he looked like them. His cleft lip has been an everyday reminder that he is different.
Last year, Likezo's aunt Annie determined to find help for him. She had heard about Goran in Lusaka and the surgical services he offers, and talked to Likezo’s father. “Surgery can fix Likezo’s lip!” she told him excitedly. “These things are being done!” Likezo’s father readily agreed to the surgery. Anything to help his son.
That is why today is so special. Annie traveled six hours with Likezo to see Goran, who evaluated Likezo and scheduled him for surgery.
When asked how he feels about his upcoming surgery, Likezo smiles shyly. “I will be so very happy,” he says.
This week, three of our international medical partners had the honor of presenting at the 17th Congress of the International Society for Burn Injuries, held in Sydney, Australia.
Dr. Chandini Perera from Sri Lanka, Dr. Ivette Icaza from Nicaragua and Dr. Goran Jovic from Zambia each presented on different topics related to caring for patients with severe burn injuries.
We are daily grateful for the incredible work our medical partners do and are proud to work with people who are leaders in the field of burn treatment. Congratulations, Chandini, Ivette and Goran!
Here at ReSurge, final preparations are underway for a fantastic evening at our Transformations Gala this Saturday in San Francisco!
Get excited with us by looking through some of our favorite photos from last year's gala below.
We are looking forward to having so many supporters and friends in one place to celebrate those who make our life-changing work possible, and it's not too late to get in on the fun!
We have a few seats left but they'll go quickly. Take this opportunity and purchase your tickets here.
Please join us at this year's gala! To learn more and to get your tickets, visit our website.
As Ronald McDonal House Charities (RMHC) celebrates its 40th year of helping children, we remember Milagros, a little girl in Peru we met more than a decade ago. RMHC and ReSurge have partnered together since 1987.
Milagros was just six months old when her mother abandoned her because of her abnormality. The tiny baby girl went to live with her grandmother. Four years later, her grandmother brought Milagros to a hospital in Iquitos, Peru where ReSurge volunteers were performing free reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft lip, cleft palate, and severe burns. ReSurge’s doctors and nurses repaired Milagros' cleft lip.
The following year, in 2002, ReSurge returned to Iquitos and performed another surgery for Milagros, this time repairing her cleft palate. The surgeries gave Milagros new hope for a bright future.
There is a desperate need for burn care and treatment in East Africa. In a region where billions of dollars have been allocated to infectious diseases like HIV, burn injuries have been neglected, forgotten and swept under the rug. Unfortunately, for children with burn injuries, this leaves little hope. No one knows this better than a little girl named Zula.
Zula is 5 years old and lives with her mother and father in Mwanza, Tanzania, on the shores of Lake Victoria. They live in a part of town called Mkunyuni. Her parents are extremely poor and are barely able to make ends meet by selling used clothes in the town market. Neither one can read or write.
One morning, Zula was visiting her grandmother or “bibi” who lives nearby. Her grandmother was inside doing chores and Zula was outside playing in the dirt by herself. Around midmorning, Zula’s bibi came outside to boil water for tea, as is customary throughout Tanzania. She built a fire in a low, charcoal stove and went back inside, leaving the fire unattended. When Zula noticed that the water was boiling she tried to pick up the pot as she had seen her mama and bibi do so many times. She bent over the charcoal stove and the edge of her dress ignited.
The fire licked at her legs and Zula screamed. As she ran towards the house, screaming for her bibi, the flames only grew bigger. By the time her bibi was able to rip off the flaming dress, Zula had suffered severe burns on her legs, torso and left arm.
Fortunately, she was rushed to the local hospital where her wounds were cleaned and dressed. However, if Zula needs reconstructive surgical care like many other burn patients, she will be out of luck. There are no certified plastic surgeons in the area. In some cases, if burn survivors do not receive proper care, they are left disabled and unable to attend school or work. Sadly, this means Zula faces a precarious future.
That is why ReSurge is making an effort to expand its programs in East Africa. With a successful partnership already established in Zambia, our foot is in the door. We are now looking to identify partners in other countries in the region and recently sent a site assessment team to Mwanza, where Zula and her family live. The assessment team met with local surgeons and other healthcare providers who are already laying plans to expand access to reconstructive surgical care in their country. It is our hope to partner with such people so that one day children like Zula can get the treatment they need after a severe burn injury.
Get your bid cards ready! We have some fantastic items lined up for ReSurge's Transformations Gala this year that you will not want to miss.
You could island hop in paradise, get autographed jerseys from some of the best athletes playing today, brush elbows with stars in Hollywood, learn game strategies from a poker superstar and more!
To get a preview of the items we'll be auctioning off at gala, head on over to our website.
Join Us at ReSurge's 7th Annual Transformations Gala:
Saturday, October 18, 2014 | 6:00pm
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, San Francisco
Cocktails, dinner, live auction and dancing
Our emcee for the evening will be NBC Bay Area's Laura Garcia Cannon.