Since 1969, medical volunteers have donated their time to help children and adults receive the treatment they desperately need. Our volunteer team trips have a critical role in providing surgeries in locations where the caseload is overwhelming, teaching and improving the quality of health care, and evaluating new sites. We thank each one of our volunteers today and every day for the talent and time they give to help transform lives.
Speaking of volunteers, our volunteer surgical team arrived in Ecuador this week and has quickly begun long days of surgery in Bahía de Caráquez, a coastal city about 175 miles north of Guayaquil, where ReSurge has a Surgical Outreach Center directed by Dr. Jorge Palacios.
The medical team includes surgeon Tom Davenport, recovery room nurse Sue Fossum, chief anesthesiologist George Gregory, anesthesiologist Duke McMillan and recovery room nurse Maria Pedersen. They are joined by Sheila Wolfson, the trip supporter and coordinator.
The team is joining up with Fundacion Rostros Felices (Happy Faces Foundation), which Jorge founded and calls the “daughter of ReSurge.” The foundation provides reconstructive plastic surgery for local children with clefts. The ReSurge team is helping with surgeries and teaching plastic surgery residents from the residency program Jorge founded to increase the pool of local plastic surgeons devoted to helping the poor in their own communities.
The team has kept busy, working long hours each day teaching and performing surgeries mostly on children with clefts. Stay tuned for more updates from the team!
We would like to give a big thank you to all of you who participated in our ReThink Burns photo challenge last month!
Many people submitted pictures to show their support for the campaign and their participation raised money to help provide care for burn survivors in developing countries around the world.
To see some of our favorite photos submitted for the campaign, check our photo slideshow.
Below is our story of impact that was published by Giving Tuesday in the lead up the new national day of giving, which is tomorrow, December 3. Remember that all online gifts made tomorrow will be doubled! See examples of how your gift can have an impact here.
When Punkaj was 10 years old, he was severely burned on the front of his body when the gas stove he was using to heat up tea in his home in India exploded.
Left to “heal” by themselves, burns like these cause the skin to shrink up, causing what are known as burn contractures. Punkaj developed these burn contractures on his neck and arms, rendering him unable to lift his arms or turn his head.
Back in 2007, a surgical team with ReSurge International, an organization that provides free reconstructive surgeries and builds medical capacity in developing countries, met Punkaj in Dehradun, India, and performed surgery to release the burn contracture on his neck.
Two years later, Punkaj returned and asked the team to release the contractures on his arms. The team had planned to do more work on his neck, but he insisted that they operate on his arms instead, because he wanted to be able to attend school. He had to ride a bike to get to school, but the contractures on his arms made it impossible for him to lift his arms high enough to reach the handlebars of his bike.
And in January, Punkaj, who is now in college, came again to welcome the returning surgical team and thank them for their help throughout the years. During his visit, our surgeons offered to do some revision work on his neck. Punkaj turned down this offer because he has school exams coming up.
When he was 14, Punkaj asked for surgery that would allow him to attend school like most boys his age. Now, because he is able to attend school, he has turned down surgery—a true testament of how Punkaj’s life and functionality have been restored. Punkaj hopes to become an elementary school teacher one day, and thanks to the surgical care he received, he is well on his way to a brighter future.
ReSurge International renews the health of 3,000 people like Punkaj each year—so they can go to school, provide for their families, and be productive members of society. It also empowers local doctors to increase year-round access to medical care in underserved areas.
Celebrate generosity this #GivingTuesday by contributing to ReSurge’s life-changing reconstructive surgical work. Take the opportunity to give something truly meaningful this year by making a gift in honor of a friend of loved one.
And as a special bonus, a generous donor has offered to match all donations made online to ReSurge on Giving Tuesday, up to $75,000.
Consider what your gift could provide by checking out the funding examples listed on ReSurge’s Giving Tuesday webpage and help give the gift of restored health and dreams this year.
Many of you are likely gearing up for Black Friday coming up in a couple of days. And then Cyber Monday after the weekend. But have you heard that there's a new day in the holiday calendar dedicating solely to giving back?
On December 3, ReSurge is excited to participate in Giving Tuesday -- a day when non-profits, families, businesses and individuals come together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.
This year, we invite you to celebrate generosity by contributing to our life-changing reconstructive surgical work. Take the opportunity to give something truly meaningful this holiday giving season by making a gift in honor of a friend of loved one.
And there's a special bonus! One of our generous donors has offered to match all donations made online to ReSurge on Giving Tuesday, up to $75,000. Take advantage of this great opportunity to have your gift doubled next Tuesday!
Consider what your gift could provide by checking out the funding examples listed on our Giving Tuesday webpage.
So mark your calendar or set yourself a reminder to make your doubled online gift in honor of someone special next Tuesday, December 3, here on our website!
We are happy to share a couple of new videos with you, featuring some of the inspiring people ReSurge has the privilege of calling supporters and partners.
Tim Smith, a former two-term board member who has raised nearly $500,000 for ReSurge through golf tournaments, received the 2013 William C. Lazier Leadership Award. In his acceptance speech, he described a "ripple effect" that began when his son TJ was born with a cleft lip and palate, leading him to his deep involvement with ReSurge.
"I feel incredibly honored to receive this award tonight," Smith said, "but I was just one layer in this ripple that was started by my son TJ. Everyone in this room is part of a bigger ripple. Every single one of us is a piece of a bigger puzzle."
Click the video box below to see the video featuring Tim that was shown at the gala.
Dr. Yogi and Kush Aeron were also honored at this year's gala with the 2013 Donald R. Laub Humanitarian Award. This father-son duo has treated more than 1,100 patients in need of free reconstructive surgery in India since 2006, the majority of whom suffer from debilitating burn injuries.
"The work that we do through ReSurge and our Surgical Outreach Center in Dehradun [India] continues to change the lives of so many, and it has changed my life too," said Dr. Yogi Aeron in his acceptance speech.
His son, Dr. Kush Aeron, said of his father, "I am very honored and happy to be receiving this award tonight, especially in partnership with my father [...] He has always been my inspiration and mentor. The work that I watched him doing while I was growing up helped me to realize that this was what I have always wanted to do."
Click the video box below to view the video honoring the Aerons.
Please join us in thanking and congratulating Tim Smith and Drs. Yogi and Kush Aeron for their dedication, leadership and service.
Yesterday we were excited to welcome back Dr. Donald Laub, ReSurge's founder and international humanitarian surgery pioneer. He joined us at our Sunnyvale office for a pre-Thanksgiving luncheon to recount the history of the organization and his recent acceptance of the American College of Surgeons' 2013 Surgical Humanitarian Award.
Over potluck plates of turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce, Dr. Laub kept the staff enthralled with stories of ReSurge (then Interplast) in the late 60's and early 70's. He talked about his motivation for starting ReSurge and had many stories to share about particular trips and specific patients from the earlier years. He applauded the continued work of ReSurge and its efforts to maintain close, productive relationships with our international partners. It was truly remarkable to note how much of Dr. Laub's life has been dedicated to helping others and it was clear why he is deserving of the Surgical Humanitarian Award.
The award was recently presented to Dr. Laub in recognition of his lifetime of service providing surgical care to the underserved in developing countries and his legacy of individuals and organizations that have emulated his model to provide surgical humanitarian outreach around the world.
During his career, he completed 159 surgical trips and performed 1,500 cleft lip and palate surgeries. His legacy, however, extends far beyond these patients. ReSurge trains hundreds of local medical personnel each year through its surgical trips and workshops, and now has 11 permanent surgical outreach programs around the world that provide year-round access to high-quality reconstructive surgery. To date, ReSurge has performed 100,000 operations in 15 countries.
Please join us in congratulating our founder, Dr. Donald Laub!
This has been a year of milestones for ReSurge International, ranging from the completion of our 100,000th surgery to the retirement of treasured staff member of 37 years and award winner, Amy Laden. As we reflect on the various accomplishments throughout our organization, the recent success of our Sixth Annual Transformations Gala lay at the forefront of our consciousness.
On Saturday, November 9, at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, ReSurge welcomed more than 300 guests to a delightful, India-inspired evening. Volunteers, donors, board members past and present, as well as numerous friends of ReSurge were greeted in the main reception gallery by the exotic sounds of live Sarode and Tabla players, mingled over cocktails and were treated to an Indian classical dance performance by the renowned Kala Vandana dance group.
Momentum was building throughout the ballroom as we all were light-heartedly entertained by our emcee for the evening, actor and comedian, Ravi Patel. Listening to the stories of hope and gratitude presented by our honorees Amy Laden, Tim Smith and Drs. Yogi and Kush Aeron set the stage for the fundraising that would ensue.
Our twelve-item auction offered up a feast for the senses encouraging more and more bids, and lead into our final and most touching portion of our program, Fund the Need. By the time Fund the Need speaker and ReSurge trip translator coordinator Nisha Chaudry was done, there was not a dry eye in the house.
We are proud to say we met our fundraising goal of $550,000 not including an enticing match challenge of $200,000 for Fund the Need. With the match, we can boast a total amount of more than $700,000 for programmatic support! Thanks so much to all of our guests and supporters who made this success possible. Because of it, more patients living in poverty will now get the surgical care they need to renew their health and restore their hope.
Later this week, we will bring you videos and more stories about our extraordinary awardees.
Photo of a clinic day at the Aerons in Dehradun, India.
Dr. Yogi Aeron has been a plastic surgeon in India for more than 40 years. He was one of the only ones in the region around Dehradun, India when he first began. Now, joined by his son, Dr. Kush Aeron, they restore hope for hundreds of burn survivors who live in poverty each year.
Since Kush was a boy, it has been their family’s work to help those who have no other access to the care. Kush remembers living in a small home that doubled as a clinic; one half of their two-room home was dedicated to the patients who needed their help. There, they helped transform the lives of disabled burn survivors from ones of debilitation and desperation to ones of hope, of having again the freedom to walk, move their arms, work and go to school.
When asked why they do what they do, Yogi replied, “The pleasure you get from helping a patient is much more than money can buy.”
For their devotion and good work, ReSurge is pleased to honor Drs. Yogi and Kush Aeron this Saturday, November 9, at the Transformation Gala. We hope you will be able to join us to celebrate these humanitarians and others.
We at ReSurge are thrilled to welcome to the staff Cessie Spearing, our new communications and advocacy coordinator.
A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Cessie joined ReSurge last month after returning from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she had been working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the communications advisor.
After obtaining a bachelor's degree in digital media from the University of Alabama, Cessie went to Tanzania and served as a health education volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps, where she worked with local leaders to develop and implement HIV/AIDS programs in her community.
Please join us in welcoming Cessie!
Many of you will remember that earlier this year, we held a successful ReThink Burns photo challenge, which got a great response. Next week, we are kicking off our second annual photo challenge, and we need your help!
As part of our ReThink Burns campaign, all next week we are giving you a chance to "ReThink Your Social." Thanks to one of our generous donors, for every photo that you post to Facebook or Twitter with our ReThink Burns sign, one dollar will be donated to ReSurge to help burn survivors around the world.
Last year, the response we received was overwhelming. Over 800 people from 15 different countries participated and over $3,000 was raised. This year, we are aiming even higher.
It’s simple! Here’s all you need to do:
That’s it. 1 photo, 1 dollar, 1 week, 1 life: 11/11
Help us spread the word. Get creative. Anyone can participate! Tell your friends, coworkers and family about this fun, easy way to help advance our work on severe burns and raise awareness of the life-changing surgeries our doctors perform.
The social media campaign begins on Monday, November 11, and ends at 5:00 pm PST on Friday, November 15.
We look forward to seeing your posts!
Part of the team in Cox's Bazar's focus is on educational medical exchange and training. Here volunteer pediatrician Kathy Gallagher leads a workshop on well baby care to frontline community health workers.
The idea behind these classes is that the students of the program will go out in their communities and teach others.
Stay tuned for more updates from Bangladesh!
Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh -- Eileen Sheldon, ReSurge volunteer and trip supporter
We made it to Cox's Bazar after our journey that included a sunny afternoon in Singapore during our layover, an overnight stay in Dhaka and an introduction to the current political affairs in Bangladesh.
Our final destination, The Hope Foundation Hospital for women and children, is located off of a narrow but busy village street and is an impressive facility among its surroundings. Our first morning at the hospital started with a greeting and introduction by its director. Immediately afterwards, we set up our clinic to screen patients while several team members began assembling the operating room. We were off the ground and running.
The clinic was abuzz within moments of our set up. We were greeted with quietly eager and obviously nervous patients and family members. Within a few hours we completed the screenings needed to determine the appropriate procedure for each patient. Thanks to some glittery stickers and coloring books, we produced quite a few smiles and hopefully some comfort.
I was moved by the stories of all the patients -- a 16 year old girl who journeyed on her own to have a facial contraction improved with the hopes of obtaining a job; the petite 2-year-old who spoke of having the doctors fix her syndactyly (fused) fingers; the wide-eyed young boy who loves playing football but limped severely. I could go on.
Before we left for the day, we spent time in the ward where the families gathered to wait until their scheduled procedure. It was quiet and calm. Some napped, curled up on the bare mattresses. Others sat quietly still, like the father-daughter pair who picked a lone corner and fixed their eyes in stoic gazes across the room. For some the humid, dimly-lit room would be there home for the coming week or more. And I selfishly hope that will give me an opportunity to get to know them.
What a day.
Earlier this year, ReSurge sent a team trip to Dehradun, India, where we have a Surgical Outreach Program run by Drs. Yogi and Kush Aeron. One of our former patients who visited the team in Dehradun during clinic day was Punkaj, and his story truly highlights the impact of reconstructive surgery on a patient’s life.
Punkaj was burned when he was 10 years old, after the gas stove he was using to heat up tea exploded. In 2007, ReSurge performed surgery on him to release the burn contracture on his neck. In 2009, Punkaj returned to have the contractures on his arms released. Punkaj wanted to be able to ride his bike to attend school and the contractures on his arms made it impossible for him to lift his arms high enough to reach the handlebars.
And in January, Punkaj returned to welcome our team and thank them for their help throughout the years. During his visit, our surgeons offered to do some revision work on his neck. Punkaj turned down this offer because he has school exams coming up.
When he was 14, Punkaj asked for surgery that would allow him to attend school like most boys his age. Now, because he is able to attend school, he has turned down surgery—a true testament of how Punkaj’s life and functionality have been restored. Punkaj’s priorities have shifted, and our surgeons were more than happy to oblige. Punkaj is currently in college and hopes to become an elementary school teacher one day. Thanks to the surgical care he received, he is very well on his way to a brighter future.
Punkaj is just one of many children and adults in India whose life has been transformed by the surgical care provided by our partners Dr. Yogi and Kush Aeron. We are thrilled that this father-son duo will join us on November 9 at our Transformations Gala in San Francisco to accept an award in recognition of their incredible work.
To hear more stories of inspiration and transformation from the Aerons themselves, be sure to get your tickets to the gala today!
Center photo by John Urban; right photo by Liliana Vazquez Giffen