Making Connections for His Care | Sorie

Making Connections for His Care | Sorie

Mali,
May 31, 2018

As the director of international services at ReSurge International, Amy Laden is often contacted by individuals and other nonprofits seeking help for impoverished children who need surgery. She works to connect patients in need with our surgeons in developing countries.

About a year ago, a man from a small humanitarian organization contacted her regarding a boy in Sierra Leone.

Eleven-year-old Sorie spilled kerosene on his shirt one day. Later, he was carrying a lit lantern when the wind started to blow. To protect the flame from the wind, Sorie placed the lamp beneath his kerosene-soaked shirt. Tragically, the flame mixed with the residual kerosene and ignited his shirt, causing terrible burns from his waist to his chin, and on his arms and legs. Sadly, Sorie was just one of more than 6 million people in poor countries who are severely burned each year (more school-aged children die of fires each year than of tuberculosis or malaria).

Sorie became more than a faceless statistic when a group of humanitarian organizations worked together to get him the help he needed. ReSurge doesn’t work in Sierra Leone but our medical partner in Ghana offered to perform the reconstructive surgeries (four so far) that released his severely contracted arm and neck.

Today, Sorie can use his arm and move his neck. “It’s exciting to realize that Sorie now has a chance at a much brighter future. Just a few surgeries dramatically improved his life and the life of his family,” said Laden, who made the connection between the humanitarian organization and our Ghana center. “I’m really glad we at ReSurge had a chance to be part of his transformation.”

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Mali’s First Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon

Helping Oumar Be Mali’s First Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon

Mali,
May 31, 2018

In Mali, there is only one physician for every 12,800 people—and no reconstructive plastic surgeons. But Dr. Oumar Coulibaly is out to change that.

He hopes one day to be his country’s first pediatric plastic surgeon to help poor children receive the reconstructive care they need.

Over the years, ReSurge has witnessed the remarkable dedication of this young, local physician during its volunteer surgical team trips to Bamako. Our volunteers saw that he potentially could restore the lives of hundreds of impoverished children every year with further training.

ReSurge is building surgical capacity in Mali by helping Dr. Coulibaly receive additional specialized pediatric surgical training.

Empowering doctors like Dr. Coulibaly to transform the lives of children in their own countries has proven to be a very cost-effective means of increasing medical access.

Due to political unrest in Mali in recent years, Dr. Coulibaly moved his studies to Cote d’Ivoire, where he completed his pediatric surgery residency. He is currently a practicing pediatric surgeon back home in Mali’s capital, Bamako.

ReSurge is dedicated to providing educational opportunities for Dr. Coulibaly, and we are exploring further training opportunities with him, to give him the reconstructive surgical skills he needs to treat patients in his country with disabling burn injuries and other conditions that require plastic surgery.

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Bringing Hope to Mali | Awa

Bringing Hope to Mali | Awa

Mali,
May 31, 2018

Awa, an 11-year-old girl, was shaking down fruit from a tree with a metal pole when her pole hit a live wire, and in a flash, sent a shock down her body, electrocuting her in all four limbs and her belly. The electric surge left her with terrible wounds, but her left hand and foot sustained the most injuries.

Awa lives with her family in Segou, Mali in Western Africa, a country where half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. There is limited access to medical care—and not a single plastic surgeon in the entire country.

That’s when ReSurge stepped in to make a difference. It was two years ago when ReSurge volunteers first met Awa at Gabriel Toure Hospital in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. Awa underwent several surgeries on her other extremities and, unfortunately, her left foot had to be partially amputated.

After the volunteer team left, a local doctor trained and supported by ReSurge, Dr. Oumar Coulibaly, continued to care for Awa, ensuring that her wounds healed properly so she could have the follow-up procedures needed the next time we returned.

This past fall, ReSurge sent occupational therapist Pam Silverman along with the surgical team to help Awa learn rehabilitative exercises to restore function to her hand.

When the ReSurge team saw her in 2011, just a year after her first round of surgeries, Awa was eagerly waiting with her family. She was dressed in a very becoming dress and had a grown-up purse over her shoulder. There were no signs of limping despite the injuries sustained on her feet. Awa, who speaks French fluently, proudly told us that she can walk, run and shoot “les basket” (basketball).

She attends school, can write with her right hand and is now a sixth grader. With continued rehabilitation for her recent surgeries, we can imagine a bright future ahead for Awa, one that a few years before may not have been possible.

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Seeking Advice from International Colleagues

Seeking Advice on a Hyena Bite

Zambia,
May 31, 2018

When Dr. Goran Jovic was presented the case of a teenager attacked by a hyena, he turned to ReSurge Grand Rounds (RGR) for help. With advice from colleagues around the world, Goran was able to repair the wounds. Here is the story.

Several years ago in a rural Malawi village, the silence of a warm, still night in June was broken by panicked screaming. A rabid hyena was making its way through the village. It killed nine people, while numerous others were horribly wounded. Simolo, then 13, was one of them.

She survived, but the hyena severely disfigured Simolo’s face. A gaping hole above her lip made it difficult for her to eat or to control a persistent drool. As a consequence, she stopped going to school.

But aid workers in Malawi contacted ReSurge International and we got in touch with Dr. Goran Jovic, the only plastic surgeon in Zambia and director of our Surgical Outreach Program there.

Goran consulted with other physicians on ReSurge Grand Rounds and taking their advice into account, performed surgery to restore her face — and her hope.

Now, Simolo has returned to school and is back to living life like any other teenage girl.

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A Mother’s Hope For Her Son

A Mother’s Hope For Her Son

Zambia,
May 31, 2018

Mateo was one of nearly 17,000 people who receive a severe burn every year in Zambia, a country with one reconstructive plastic surgeon and 12.6 million people. When he was just five years old, Mateo tripped and fell into an open cooking fire. His mother and father—both farmers—were working in their fields on the farm that sustains their large family. For two years after the accident, Mateo received no treatment; his family simply couldn’t afford it.

After the accident, Mateo was unable to move his neck or hand, as the burn wounds had contracted and permanently fused his head to his neck and his fingers together. So when his mother heard about free surgery offered by Dr. Goran Jovic, Zambia’s only plastic surgeon and ReSurge International’s surgical outreach director, she made the agonizing decision to take Mateo to the city, leaving her other nine children at home.

Missing work to care for a sick child is a common occurrence for mothers around the world. However, for Mary, whose son Mateo so desperately needed reconstructive surgical care for his disabling burns, “missing work” meant a huge sacrifice. Not only did she have to travel far from home, but she also was leaving behind nine other children with a farm that barely sustained them. Although it was difficult to leave the others, especially at harvest time, Mateo’s mother knew it was an opportunity she could not pass up for her son, perhaps his only chance to have a normal life. Even though the surgery from ReSurge was free, leaving her other children and the precarious state of her family’s livelihood still made the decision to get treatment for Mateo a difficult one. Yet, she remembered with anguish the way that Mateo would hide his crippled hand each time the family went to church. She knew there was no way she could pass up this opportunity for her son.

After her son’s successful surgery, Mary was filled with conflicting emotions: relief that Mateo had a renewed chance to move his neck and arms, and concern that her time away at the hospital had placed a heavy burden on her nine other children. Though it had been a difficult decision, after seeing Mateo recovering on the hospital bed, Mary told us she was thankful she had come and that Mateo now had a chance for a brighter future.

Dr. Jovic restored Mateo’s neck and hand movement—and he now goes to school for the first time. He has hopes of becoming an accountant.

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