ReSurge is glad to announce that starting this year, Long Island Plastic Surgical Group (LIPSG) has partnered with us to support our work providing life-changing surgical care in the countries where we work for the next 10 years.
LIPSG is the longest tenured private plastic surgery practice in the U.S., and its surgeons have more than 250 cumulative years of experience in the field of aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.
LIPSG will become the sponsor of our surgical outreach program in Ecuador, and LIPSG physicians will work with ReSurge to help transform lives by not only contributing financially, but by providing surgeons and medical staff for surgical team trips and visiting educator trips.
Longtime ReSurge medical volunteer and board member Dr. Tom Davenport is a surgeon and partner with the practice, which is based in Garden City, NY and has offices in Manhattan, Huntington, Babylon, Flushing, Garden City, Manhasset and Lynbrook.
We are tremendously grateful for this partnership with LIPSG and their commitment to support our work over the next decade.
As many of you know, last year ReSurge was selected as a partner organization for Stanford University's Design for Extreme Affordability course. Last year's team of students successfully developed Nepal's first ever skin bank to help survivors of severe burn injuries. They also developed an innovative, low-cost, adjustable hand splint. We are pleased to have been selected for a second year of partnership and kicked off the collaboration last week.
On Thursday, January 15, Chief Advocacy Officer Sara Anderson and Director of Medical Programs and Impact Joe Lippi met with students enrolled in the Extreme Affordibility course. They delivered presentations on three critical issues related to the lack of access to quality treatment of burn injuries in Nepal and Bangladesh. Six other international organizations also presented on various developing world problems. They then challenged the students to devise effective, cost-efficient solutions to the problems as part of the Extreme Affordability class.
Our volunteer surgical team has arrived safely in Phan Rang, Vietnam. Greeted by our partners there, our volunteers wasted no time getting started despite the 40+ hours of travel that brought them to Vietnam.
Hosne with her 13-year-old daughter. Photo by Jeffrey Davis
Before her 13th birthday, Hosne had been married against her will to a man more than twice her age, suffered abuse from her husband and mother-in-law, and then was brutally attacked with acid, which severely disfigured her face.
Her story is complicated with simply devastating results. It all began when she was 12 and living in a small village in southeastern Bangladesh. One fateful night, her father and uncle made a secret decision to marry her to her 30-year-old cousin. Money was exchanged and she was taken away from her family to her uncle's home, stunned and confused.
When she was told of the marriage plans, she refused and was whipped and beaten for hours until she agreed to the union. The beatings continued for months; she was told the punishment was because she did not properly cook, clean and care for her new family. She was only 12 and had no instruction on how to keep a home.
After many months of abuse and no sign that life would improve for Hosne, her father rescued her and brought her back home. Her new husband was angry and ashamed. He desperately wanted her to return to him and his family.
When he recognized this was unlikely, he decided if she would not be his wife, then he would make sure that no other man would be attracted to her. In the middle of the night, he forced himself into her father’s home and into the room where she and her sisters were sleeping. He leaned over her and poured sulfuric acid over the left side of her face and shoulder.
She awoke to a living nightmare of pain, as the acid burned through her skin. Her hospital treatment was long, complicated and expensive, deeply stretching her father’s finances. The police came, but her family did not press charges -- in exchange for a promise from the husband culprit and Hosne’s uncle to pay for her treatment, additional compensation, and a village-approved divorce.
At 13, Hosne married another man from her village, whom she describes as kind, supportive and caring. Together for 15 years, they have five children. Although Hosne and her second husband have a good life, the financial promises for her treatment were not kept and the burn injuries to her face were never repaired.
In November, ReSurge's surgical team worked to repair her eyelid area to protect her sight. It is the first step of many to reconstruct her face and reduce the stigma she has suffered for 16 years. Her story and courage touched all of us and we hope she will return in the spring to continue treatment and healing.
Dr. Shafquat Khundkar, ReSurge's outreach director and surgeon in Bangladesh, has repaired the horrific scars of many acid burn survivors and told Hosne that he and ReSurge will give her the excellent care she needs and deserves.
RealSelf, a global online community for learning and sharing information about cosmetic surgery and other elective treatments, got a firsthand look at the impact of reconstructive surgery in other countries last year when they sponsored ReSurge's volunteer surgical team trip to Quy Nhon, Vietnam. The team provided 87 children and adults with surgical care and helped train local personnel.
“We were so moved by the impact from this effort, we decided to increase our commitment to a larger range of surgery locations and patients,” said RealSelf founder and CEO, Tom Seery. The increased commitment took the shape of their #Change500 campaign.
RealSelf's #Change500 campaign is a year-long effort to raise $125,000 to enable us to provide as many as 500 children and adults with access to life-changing surgical care. The campaign was intended to run through the end of 2015, but they have already seen incredible support. In less than two weeks after the campaign launched, #Change500 reached 99 percent of its goal!
We at ReSurge are incredibly grateful to RealSelf and its community for this overwhelming support, and are even more thankful that RealSelf has generously decided to continue with the campaign as planned.
Visit the #Change500 campaign page to see the amazing video RealSelf produced from the trip to Vietnam and to check out all of the support that has come in.
Editor's Note: Here's one of our favorite stories of 2014. It is in our recent annual report and we wanted to make sure our blog readers saw it as well. With its theme of renewal, it seemed fitting for January 1. Happy New Year and thanks for all of your help bringing new life and hope to families around the world.
Mohammed Hussein was just 7 years old when the accident occurred that left him on crutches. He was playing with friends near his home when he fell into a vat of tar that was being used to pave the road, severely burning his right leg. After his accident, Mohammed Hussein stopped attending school and had resorted to begging as a source of income, one of the few and unfortunate choices left for an uneducated, disabled boy.
When ReSurge first met him in 2013, he appeared to be an amputee. The lower portion of his right leg could not be seen, as the skin on his leg had contracted, causing his calf to fuse to his thigh and ridding him of the ability to walk.
Many burn disabilities, like Mohammed Hussein's, are needless and due to limited access to appropriate burn treatment at the time of the injury. In Bangladesh alone, burns affect more than 365,000 people each year, and 4,000 burn victims become permanently disabled.
In 2013, the ReSurge team straightened his right leg, the first step in making it so that he could walk again without crutches. Since that surgery, Mohammed Hussein has been catching up with his studies and feeling independent for the first time in years.
He can stand, greet people and can even walk without crutches for a very short distance, on his heels. His mother smiled and added that he also manages to play soccer, kicking and chasing the ball with the aid of his crutches.
His father, a rickshaw driver, said he was so very thankful that "Mohammed Hussein has been given a second life." Because of the family's very limited income, he said they never would have been able to afford surgery without the help of the ReSurge team.
In November 2014, ReSurge medical volunteers and our Bangladeshi surgeons again saw Mohammed Hussein and worked to release the burn contractures on his right foot so that he can stand on his leg again, put weight on it and eventually walk.
In April 2015, surgeons will return to release the left foot in the same way - and soon thereafter, he should be able to walk without crutches for the first time since he was seven.
Mohammed Hussein, now 14, is well on his way to succeeding in school and living a more productive life.
For more photos of Mohammed Hussein and his family, please visit this Flickr album.
Thank you to all of our supporters this past year who have helped us to transform the lives of thousands of children and adults through surgery. We could not have done it without you!
If we haven't heard from you yet, there is still time to give a gift that will change a life. Thanks to a generous matching grant from the Syde Hurdus Foundation, your gift made between now and midnight tomorrow will be matched dollar for dollar, doubling your impact! Thanks for helping transform even more lives.
Photo by Jeffrey Davis
This past year, we celebrated 45 years of transforming the lives of children and adults with deformities and injuries. Over the years, ReSurge has continually evolved, taking advantage of advances in medicine, technology and training to improve access to reconstructive surgical care for the world’s poor.
We invite you to read about ReSurge's latest achievements in our new online annual report. Thank you for your part in helping us build surgical capacity and transform lives. We could not do provide hope and healing without the assistance of our medical volunteers, international partners and generous supporters like you.
Learn more about how your involvement helped restore dreams.
Still doing last-minute shopping for friends and loved ones this holiday season? Why not help change a life while you're at it by giving the gift of life-changing surgical care?
We've had a great year and hope to help many more children and families still waiting for surgery in the coming year. We can only do our work with the support of people like you, so we invite you to join us in our work this year!
During this gift-giving season, please consider a donation in honor of that special person in your life. Make a gift in tribute to someone and we will send a note in the mail letting them know.
Here are a few examples of what your gift can provide:
$30 can help send one burn patient to a physical therapy camp
$50 can provide speech therapy for a child born with a cleft lip or palate
$100 can provide nutritional supplements for at least 10 children so they can become healthy enough to undergo surgery
$250 can cover the cost of reconstructive surgery for a child with a hand burn
And thanks to a generous matching grant from the Syde Hurdus Foundation, your gift will be matched $1 for $1 - meaning $100 = $200!
You can make your gift safely and securely through our website at www.ReSurge.org. And remember: if you make your gift by December 31st, it will be matched $1 for $1 and have twice the impact!
Best wishes to you all for a healthy and joyous holiday season.
Photo by Jeffrey Davis.
ReSurge International is now a proud member of the Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anaesthesia Care (The G4 Alliance), a newly established advocacy-based organization dedicated to building political priority for surgical, obstetric, trauma and anaesthesia care as part of the global development agenda.
Committed to advocating for the neglected surgical patient, the G4A seeks to provide a collective voice for increased access to quality, timely and affordable surgical, obstetric, trauma and anaesthesia care as part of universal health coverage.
ReSurge will play a leading role in this advocacy coalition, which includes many esteemed international organizations from academia, the NGO community and medical societies. At its first board meeting in London last week, ReSurge representative and board member Sara Anderson was elected chair of its external affairs committee.
“ReSurge is very proud to be a member of this coalition and looks forward to advocating for the more than 2 billion people around the world who urgently need access to surgical care. For way too long, their voices have not been part of the global development agenda,” stated Anderson.
Earlier this month, the team at our Surgical Outreach Program in Nepal held a successful speech therapy camp for young patients who have receive surgery to repair their cleft lip and/or palate.
The camp was held in the western city of Butwal and ran for one week in total, beginning every day at 8am and continuing until 6pm. Our team of interdisciplinary caregivers travel great lengths to remote villages all around this mountainous country to hold camps, where they are able to deliver follow-up care consisting of speech therapy, dental hygiene and counseling for children and their families.
On day one of the camp in Butwal, each child was assessed individually by speech assistants, under the supervision of a speech therapist. For most cleft patients, surgery is only the beginning. After the operation is finished, patients still often need to work to acquire speech and language skills, which is where our therapists come in.
In total, 56 post-surgical patients were seen at this camp. For many of the children, this was their first camp experience, but more than half of them were returning camp participants.
Take a look below at the great photos from this month's camp in Butwal. Congratulations, Nepal team!
Many of our smallest patients would not be able to access the surgical care they need without the support of their parents. Some of the mothers in particular exhibit a relentless determination to find help for their child and an unconditional love that makes them blind to scars, disabilities and abnormalities their child may have. In Portoviejo, Ecuador, there is a young mother who exemplifies this very kind of love.
When Narcissa was pregnant, she learned her son Christopher would be born with a cleft lip and palate. She took the news and without hesitation responded, “I don’t care” and for good reason—Narcissa herself had been born with a cleft. She knew that a simple surgical procedure could repair clefts and allow for a happy and normal childhood.
Christopher was born, and Narcissa immediately contacted Dr. Jorge Palacios, the director of ReSurge’s Surgical Outreach Program in Ecuador. He promised to help and told her to travel to a nearby town where his local team and our visiting educators would soon be making a trip.
Narcissa followed his instructions and brought Christopher to Bahia de Caraquez to meet the team. Christopher’s surgery went well and Narcissa is overjoyed that he will grow up without experiencing the stigma and challenges of having a cleft.
Lucky and her baby boy, on left. Photo by Jeffrey Davis.
“Where’s my baby? Where’s my baby?” Those were the first words that Lucky spoke after waking up from her surgery for burn reconstruction at Hope Hospital in Bangladesh. When we told her he was just fine, she smiled and drifted back to sleep.
Lucky is a young, devoted mother of two small boys – and her name seems almost unfitting when you first learn of her story.
Her own loving parents named her Lucky when she became their only child after years of hoping to have children. She grew up, married and became a high school teacher, learning English and pursuing her master’s degree. Lucky loved teaching and children.
When she was giving birth to her first son, complications arose, the labor was prolonged and her first baby was born with severe brain damage. He is now three and still cannot hold up his head nor walk. As services for disabled children are few in Bangladesh, she needed to leave her job as a teacher to care for him.
The next year, she was expecting again. To avoid the labor complications this time, her doctors recommended and scheduled a c-section. The day before she was to travel to Chittagong Hospital for the delivery, Lucky was cooking on her floor-level stove when her dress caught fire. She remembers little from that fateful day except that her arms were burning as she tried to keep the fire from her belly, her baby.
Lucky was rushed to the Chittagong Hospital and the emergency doctors wrapped her wounds. The next morning, still in severe pain from her burns, she delivered a healthy baby boy, as scheduled. Then, Lucky was taken by ambulance to Dhaka for further treatment of her burns. Her newborn and other child stayed behind in the care of her in-laws.
She went a month without seeing her children while being treated for her burns in Dhaka. The separation and the treatment were both painful. Lucky returned home after the long month, but was still not well enough to fully care for her children for another 8 months. Thankfully, her in-laws are kind and helped. Although she healed and regained her health, the wounds on her arm contracted and she could no longer extend it fully, making it difficult to care for her children.
Last month, Lucky came to the Hope Hospital in Cox’s Bazar and the ReSurge surgical team cared for her. With reconstructive surgery, they released the elbow burn contracture so that she will be able to use her arm more fully. Moreover, outside the normal scope of ReSurge’s work, Dr. Evan Bloom, the team pediatrician, and Mohan Dangol, the team physical therapist, were able to provide her some comforting advice and splints for her older son.
For someone who has suffered so much, the ReSurge team was happy to provide whatever assistance they could. Lucky was very thankful for the help and said that she actually felt lucky for the first time in a long time.
So perhaps the name Lucky did fit her that week, but we also will fondly remember Lucky as Courageous, Resilient, Kind and Devoted. We wish her the best.
This week, a multi-disciplinary team of highly experienced ReSurge medical volunteers from multiple countries - including surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses - traveled to Ecuador to provide training in surgical care to local plastic surgery residents and medical students working with Dr. Jorge Palacios, director of our Surgical Outreach Program in the country.
The group traveled to the coastal city of Bahía de Caráquez, and throughout the week, the residents and students learned skills in providing high-quality surgical care through observation and hands-on practice. In all, the group provided surgical care for more than 50 children and adults.
Among the first patients was Victor, a young boy with a cleft lip and palate.
Our Visiting Educator program is essential in our commitment to creating sustainability in the delivery of reconstructive surgical care to those without access - creating a committed corps of trained professionals providing care locally.
As a result of this training, these students and residents are one step further on their way to becoming the next generation of humanitarian doctors.
Dr. Cristina Almeida, one of the surgical residents this week, said she wants to be able to help those in her country who have disabling injuries or congenital deformities to live a better life.
The educator team includes surgeons Dr. Pirko Maguina from California and Dr. Marc Ronert from Florida, anesthesiologists Dr. Myles Standish from Oregon and Dr. Karina Rando from Uruguay, nurses Lisa Pritchard from Texas and Terese Patrin from Florida, and coordinator/translator Amy Laden from California.
ReSurge is grateful to Dr. Marc Ronert of Image Skincare and the Care for Skin Foundation for sponsoring this Visiting Educator trip.
Dr. Haskell Gruber, retired professor, orthodontist and long-time ReSurge volunteer, passed away on November 8 in San Antonio, Texas surrounded by his family. He was almost 92 years old.
From 1987 to 2010, Dr. Haskell Gruber volunteered his time with ReSurge as a visiting educator, evaluating patients and educating local medical and dental professionals about the importance of orthodontic care for children with clefts.
"We at ReSurge are deeply grateful for Dr. Gruber's many years of devoted service, not only to the children he treated, but to the dentists and orthodontists in the developing world who he so skillfully taught," said ReSurge President & CEO Susan Hayes. "We are saddened by the news of Dr. Gruber's passing, and our thoughts are with his family."
Gruber traveled nearly two dozen times for ReSurge, delivering orthodontic care to children in Honduras, Ecuador, Chile and Vietnam, and providing all-important hands-on training to developing world dentists and orthodontists.
"Everyone wants to help and this is how I give back," said Gruber. "If you get, you need to give."
As a member of the U.S. Air Force for 30 years, one of Gruber's early assignments was to Wilford Hall Medical Center's large craniofacial and cleft lip and palate center. There, he began treating military children who were born with cleft lips or palates. Working with plastic surgeons and speech therapists, he often traveled to other countries to provide care to military dependents—always making sure to include teaching opportunities for local medical and dental professionals.
ReSurge is grateful to Dr. Gruber for his dedicated, long-time service to children with cleft lips and palates. He helped to build the capacity of developing world dentists who provide impoverished children the cleft care they need.
A wonderful example of Dr. Gruber's enduring impact on patient care is the intensive training that he provided for Dr. Elsie Tafur of Ecuador, which included more than 10 trips to Ecuador and advanced training in San Antonio. Because of his training, Dr. Tafur now has the skills to treat hundreds of cleft patients who are operated on by ReSurge's outreach partner in Ecuador, Dr. Jorge Palacios.
“Our organization and the thousands Dr. Gruber treated, taught and empowered in so many countries have been immeasurably enriched by his service. We will miss him,” concluded Hayes.