Helene is a recent ReSurge International donor from Durham, North Carolina. She is a retired English as a Second Language teacher and mother. When Helene faced hand surgery after an accident this past year, she realized how lucky she was to have access to surgical care in her own backyard. We caught up with Helene to learn more about why she chose to become a ReSurge donor.
1) A crisis brought me face to face with my own healthcare privilege.
In 2021 I fell and broke my wrist while on vacation. The wrist ended up needing a plate to secure the bone, and so I had surgery. A year later, I injured that wrist again doing some yard work. A tendon that allows me to move my thumb was severed internally and I ended up needing surgery to remove the plate and repair the tendon. I live in Durham, North Carolina (known as the city of medicine) and have access to all the excellent facilities, doctors and professionals that the Duke health care system provides. Without the surgery I would have been unable to use my thumb to grasp things like a pen or fork, frying pan, or scissors. Before knowing about the work of ReSurge and the great need for life changing surgery so many in this world face, I really wouldn’t have felt especially grateful for the surgery I had access to. I must admit I probably would have felt a bit sorry for myself. I’m thankful to be able to make a donation to help others who might not be able to use their hands for all the basic activities I take for granted: cooking, writing, working in the garden, cleaning the house, tying a bow. This crisis in my life helped me connect the dots between my own privileged access to health care and the work that ReSurge does to provide life-changing surgery in places where it is scarce.
2) A little goes a long way, and I can make a big impact with my donation.
When I was looking on ReSurge’s website, I was surprised to see how cost-effect surgical care is. Most patients’ surgeries can be performed for as little as $350. That’s a small price to pay for a burned child, like this little girl, to be able to return to school, provide for her future family, and contribute to society. I spend more than that a year on my TV streaming services, so am happy to change a life with that small amount. Essential surgical care was even listed by the World Bank as one of the most cost-effective health interventions!
3) The global surgery movement is an exciting new frontier where I can make a difference.
While doing my research, I came across these Inside Philanthropy and Alliance Magazine articles which talk about the work ReSurge is doing. “Government funding for global surgical care is rare. And while infectious diseases receive 40% of global health funding, non-communicable diseases—including injuries and congenital conditions requiring reconstructive surgery—receive less than 2%. Yet, 30% of the global disease burden is due to surgical conditions. Without adequate support from local and international governments, some countries rely on private philanthropy for an estimated 55% of all surgical care.” These statistics really struck me as an exciting way for me to put my donation towards a movement that needs support from people like me.
4) I trust that my donation will be used with integrity and excellence.
ReSurge has a 50+ year history of excellence, and partners with the world’s leading medical experts from institutions like Johns Hopkins Medical Center and Stanford Medicine! I love knowing that the best minds in surgery are guiding ReSurge’s training and education programs and that surgeons much like the one that operated on my own hand are training others in low-income countries. I can trust that my donation is going into good hands, ReSurge is also top-rated “Give with Confidence” charity on Charity Navigator, with a platinum seal of transparency on GuideStar.
5) I believe that no one should suffer a treatable or preventable condition just because of who they are or where they were born.
Everyone deserves access to safe surgery. Up until my own surgery, I was unaware of the global need for reconstructive surgical care and the great cost in lives lost or diminished that this gap causes in the world. When I researched ReSurge I saw the stories of people whose lives had been transformed when they were able to use their hands again after a tragic accident or through the correction of a congenital condition. I started thinking about all the doctors offices I had been in with state-of-the-art equipment, comfortable waiting rooms, attentive technicians and staff. I thought of the expert surgeon I saw who has years of experience, teaching, researching and performing intricate surgeries of the hand and upper extremities. I want to give that same care to other families around the world. When families, communities, and nations have the healthcare systems they need, human dignity can thrive. Ultimately I give to ReSurge because of the impact it has on people.