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Kanchana, an acid burn survivor in Sri Lanka, has a renewed lease on life and is inspiring other patients to never lose hope.
Impact

Since 1969, ReSurge International (formerly Interplast) has restored the health and dreams of children and adults with deformities and injuries (such as disabling burns and clefts) so they can go to school, return to work to care for their families and be productive members of society. We also build surgical capacity in underserved areas to increase year-round access to surgical care. ReSurge impacts the world and reduces global suffering and poverty by giving more and more patients a second chance for a normal, productive life.

Increasing Access to Care

Millions of poor children around the world have no access to basic medical care, let alone the reconstructive plastic surgery they need to lead normal, productive lives. Children with congenital deformities, like cleft lips or palates, are often ostracized from their communities and denied an education simply because they look or speak differently. Accident victims, many burn-related, also endure a lifetime of suffering and disability for the simple reason that they have no access to the surgeries that would give them back the use of their hands or the freedom to move their limbs or improve their physical appearance. The sad and startling fact is that fewer than 10 percent of disabled children in the developing world attend school.

Few plastic surgeons are available to perform the needed surgeries in the developing world. In Zambia, for instance, a country of 12.6 million people, there is only one plastic surgeon. Additionally, poor families just can’t afford the medical help their children require. By contrast, in the United States, most families—even those without health insurance—have access to immediate medical attention and the kind of surgical intervention that can make a critical difference in their children’s lives.

ReSurge International builds sustainable surgical capacity where it previously did not exist by training, supporting and empowering Global South doctors. Now, in 10 Surgical Outreach Programs in eight countries, impoverished patients receive the surgical care they need year-round. Three thousand surgeries are performed in these centers each year. In seven other countries, we send volunteer visiting educators and volunteer surgical teams, performing additional surgeries and more importantly, educating and empowering local surgeons so that they can perform surgeries on their own for generations to come.

Decreasing Poverty

Few realize that disabled people are the world’s largest minority, and 80 percent live in developing countries. One cause of disability in the Global South is severe burn injuries. Worldwide, such injuries from fires leave its victims with disabilities that cost $80.2 billion a year in lost productivity (wages and skills) alone and almost all (95 percent) of that economic burden occurs in developing countries. Clefts and other congenital deformities add to the loss of productivity because few people with those conditions are accepted and allowed to go to school or work in the Global South. Unfortunately, the prejudices against them and others with disabilities continue to be widespread and they are not allowed to take their rightful place in society. Reconstructive surgery restores bodies so that they can rejoin their communities after being shunned for their disfigurements and disabilities. It renews their dreams of going to school and providing for their families. It rebuilds their futures and gives them a second chance for productive lives. Reconstructive surgery can make the difference of a lifetime, often with just a few hours of surgery. The result is permanent, immediate and dramatic. The lives of children with deformities improve, and as they do, so do the lives of their parents, who also were spurned because of the deformities of their children or forced not to work because someone had to stay home to care for their disfigured child. Men and women who were disabled because of tragic burns and other accidents are given a second chance through surgery and with it, the ability to work and support their families again. The impact continues to ripple through their communities and, indeed, through their countries, as more and more citizens are able to contribute to society.

By providing nearly 5,000 surgeries each year, ReSurge International restores productivity and hope; moreover, approximately 9 million sick days are not taken because patients are now able to go to school or to work. This in turn helps the developing countries where we work recover more than $75 million in lost wages over the lifetimes of those patients who will now be able to work.

Need and Impact by the Numbers

Number of women worldwide severely burned each year: 3.8 million; Number of women worldwide who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS annually: 3.8 million
Chances a child will be born with a cleft lip or palate: 1 in 700
Percentage of disabled children in developing countries who attend school: 10
Percentage of all severe burns worldwide that happen in developing countries: 95. Number of people severely burned by fire in India every minute: 5
Number of plastic surgeons in Sri Lanka: 6; in Zambia: 1; Bangladesh: 15; Mali: 0
Number of hand surgeons in Nepal: 1; in Bolivia: 3
Percentage of population living on less than a $1.25 a day in Zambia: 64; in the five countries where the majority of our work takes place: 47
Per capita annual expenditure on health care in Nepal: $12; in the United States: $5,274
Number of life-changing surgeries provided by ReSurge each year: 5,000
Number of sick days not taken because those treated patients are now able to go to school and work: 9 million. Amount of lost wages recovered, and helping the economies of developing countries, over the lifetimes of those patients who will now be able to work: $75 million
Number of ReSurge surgeries given to impoverished patients since 1969: 100,000

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About ReSurge
ReSurge envisions a world in which no human being suffers physically or emotionally from a repairable congenital deformity or injury. Learn more about us in this short video.