Van joined Watsi on August 23rd, 2016. Six years ago, Van joined our Universal Fund, supporting life-changing treatments for a new Watsi patient every month. Van's most recent donation traveled 4,200 miles to support Luz, a baby girl from Bolivia, to fund surgery to treat her cardiac condition.
Van has funded healthcare for 69 patients in 13 countries.
Van has funded healthcare for 69 patients in 13 countries.
Luz is a sweet baby from Bolivia, where she lives with her parents and two older brothers in a small mountain village. Her parents work as farmers to support their family. Luz, in addition to being diagnosed with Down Syndrome, was born with a ventricular septal defect, a heart condition where a hole exists between the two lower chambers of her heart. As a result, blood leaks through the hole without passing through her lungs to obtain oxygen, leaving her weak and short of breath. Fortunately, our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance who is expanding their work in Bolivia, is helping Luz receive treatment. On January 19th, Luz will undergo surgery where doctors will sew a patch over the hole, allowing for blood to flow completely through her heart and reach her lungs, obtaining oxygen and, ultimately, allowing her to grow as a healthy baby girl. Luz's family needs help raising $1,500 to fund her procedure and care. From Luz's mother: "Our family is all praying that after the surgery our daughter will be stronger and healthier."
Festus is a cheerful boy who always has a friendly smile and a joyful, resilient spirit. The fifth born of six children, he is a third grader at a nearby primary school. His parents are small scale farmers who plant maize and beans for consumption and sale. Two of his siblings are in high school and the others are in primary school. His parents sell their farm produce in order to pay their school fees and manage their daily needs. Festus has had a long stay in hospital with an infected wound and multiple surgeries, two debridement surgeries and nerve repair after he sustained a deep cut in his left hand. He now needs a skin graft to cover the damaged area. The decision to perform the skin graft was recommended by his doctors because his wound has not healed after a long time. After undergoing three surgeries, Festus feels traumatized when he enters the operation theatre. His mother is worries that he might lose his hand if not treated. Their family has had to undergo counselling to promote resilience and assurance that everything will be okay, and that Festus will be able to use his hand again. After all this, the family is looking forward to the results of the surgery with excitement. His family is asking any well-wisher to support them in this time of need, as they need $1,089 to fund the skin graft. Festus's mother says, “It’s been a long journey for my son. For the last one week I haven’t slept well just thinking of his health. I hope he gets treated and will be well again.”
Dawentz is a student from Haiti. He lives in a small town in the mountains of central Haiti with his parents and siblings. He is in his last year of high school, and would like to go on to university to study law or business. Dawentz has a cardiac condition called severe rheumatic aortic regurgitation. One of the four valves of his heart was severely damaged by a rheumatic fever he suffered earlier in childhood. As a result, his heart can no longer adequately pump blood through his body, leaving him weak and short of breath. The surgery that Dawentz needs is not available within Haiti due to limited cardiac care. He is scheduled to fly to the United States to receive treatment. On November 18th, he will undergo cardiac surgery, during which surgeons will remove his damaged valve and implant an artificial replacement. Another organization, Baylor Scott & White Heart Hospital, is contributing $20,000 to help pay for surgery. Dawentz's family also needs help to fund the costs of surgery prep and travel. The $1,500 bill covers labs, medicines, and checkup and followup appointments. It also supports the costs of obtaining his passport and the expenses of the social worker from our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance, who will accompany Dawentz's family overseas. Dawentz says: "I am very glad to know that so many people are helping me to get my health back."
Shedrack is two years old, and lives in Tanzania with his parents and one sibling. His mother stays at home to care for the children, while his father is a small scale farmer, whose earnings cover the family's basic needs. Five months ago, when Shedrack was in the kitchen with his mother, he pushed over a pot of boiling water, burning his left arm and left leg. Shedrack's mother rushed him to a local dispensary, where they were sent on to the hospital. As the family lives in a remote area, Shedrack's treatment required extensive travel. And, while the burns ultimately healed, Shedrack developed contractures, which limit his ability to straighten his leg, or to use the fingers on his left hand. Fortunately, our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is helping Shedrack receive treatment. On October 13th, surgeons at Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre will perform burn contracture release surgery, which will enable Shedrack to walk easily, and use his fingers again. Now, he needs your help to fund this $874 procedure. Shedrack’s mother says: “The burns were so bad that I thought I was going to lose my son. I am glad that now I am going to be able to help finish his treatment and all thanks to you.”
Kay is 43-year-old woman and garment factory worker. She lives alone on the border of Thailand and Burma. Kay supports her parents in Burma by sending them money every month. In her free time, she enjoys reading books about Buddhism. In the middle of 2021, Kay began experiencing pain and abnormal bleeding. By September of 2022, the pain and symptoms had worsened. Kay has been diagnosed with myoma, or a noncancerous growth in the uterus. She has been advised to undergo a total abdominal hysterectomy, which would surgically remove her uterus and cervix. If left untreated, Kay's symptoms will continue to worsen and put her at risk for further health complications in the future. Fortunately, Kay is scheduled to undergo her hysterectomy on September 19th. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of her procedure and care. Once recovered, she will no longer experience pain or abnormal bleeding. She will be able to go back to work, and to continue supporting her family. “When I recover fully, I will continue to work in the garment factory. I will save my money and I will pay back my debt. I will try to continue supporting my parents,” said Kay.
Meet Hour! He lives in Cambodia with his parents, who both work as farmers. His 26-year-old brother works as a seller at a local market. Hour completed school up to 6th grade, but he no longer attends. He enjoys spending time listening to music, playing games, and meeting friends. When he was a toddler, Hour was diagnosed with hemophilia, a medical condition that severely reduces the ability of blood to clot. This causes him to bleed heavily from even slight injuries. Four months ago, Hour began experiencing pain in his hips. He was diagnosed with bilateral hip necrosis, a painful condition that occurs when the blood supply to the head of the femur, or thighbone, is disrupted. Because bone cells need a steady supply of blood to stay healthy, his condition can ultimately lead to the destruction of his hip joint. Hour is currently unable to walk without support, has anemia, and is in chronic pain. Fortunately, our medical partner, Children's Surgical Centre (CSC), is helping him receive treatment. On August 10th, he will undergo a joint replacement, called an uncemented hip arthroplasty. CSC is requesting $1,500 to fund Hour's treatment and care. Hour shares, "I am thankful that I have a chance to have a new hip. This treatment will help me be able to work to help my family in the future."
Neylan is a three-year-old girl and the first-born child in a family of two children. She is a charming girl who loves to play with her baby brother. Her father is a teacher at a local college while the mother is a housewife. Despite having a job, it is hard for her father to earn enough to provide and care for his wife and two children. Neylan was diagnosed with bilateral genu varus, her legs bow outward at the knee. This condition is typically caused by an excessive accumulation of fluoride in the bones, which often stems from contaminated drinking water. As a result, she has difficulty walking and playing. Her baby brother is also in need of treatment, which causes stress and worry for their family. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare, is requesting $880 to fund corrective surgery for Neylan. The procedure is scheduled to take place on July 8th. Treatment will hopefully restore Neylan's mobility, allow her to participate in a variety of activities, and greatly decrease her risk of future complications. Neylan’s mother says, “Please help me, my children's legs are being deformed and we are worried."
Yoon is a bright and loving 12-year-old girl. She lives with her mother and uncle in Karen State of Burma near the border with Thailand. She was a student in grade three but stopped studying in August 2020 when she was no longer able to walk. Yoon enjoys painting pictures and reading books. In the future, she wants to go back to school and continue her studies. She helps out her mother with household chores. Her uncle is unemployed whereas her mother is an agricultural day labourer. One day at home, Yoon fell down when she tried to stand up to go to the bathroom. Her feet felt painful and were pointing downwards. After that, she did not try to stand up again and would move around her house on her knees. Her mother would have to carry her to the bathroom. Due to their financial situation, her mother was not able to seek treatment despite being very worried for her daughter. Over time, Yoon noticed that her feet were increasingly pointing downwards and were stiff. Her legs would feel painful and were also stiff. Sometimes, she could not stretch out her legs due to feelings of tightness and pain. Her mom shared that she would cry whenever her legs pained, and she would have to wait until the pain lessened by itself. Additionally, her hands began to weaken until she could not hold food with her hands. At the same time, her speech became slurred and her voice became hoarse. On June 17, Yoon arrived at our medical partner's care center, Mawlamyine Christian Leprosy Hospital (MCLH), and was admitted that same day. She received a physical examination and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and tightness of Achilles tendon in both of her legs. The doctor recommended she receive surgery on both of her feet, which would help her walk again, and scheduled the procedure for June 21st. When Yoon’s mother told the doctor that they cannot afford to pay for surgery, the doctor referred Yoon to Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF) for assistance accessing further treatment. Our medical partner, BCMF, is requesting $1,500 to cover the cost of an Achilles tendon lengthening procedure for Yoon. This procedure will elongate her Achilles tendon, allowing increased motion at the ankle joint. Without treatment, Yoon's condition will continue to cause her discomfort and will further limit her movement. Her mother said, “I cried almost every night when I saw my daughter in this condition. She always cried and complained about her feet. She always asked me to bring her to the hospital to get treatment. Whenever she asked me, I felt very sad and I would cry in secret. I want her to get treatment, but I cannot afford to pay for it. Due to COVID-19 and the current fighting in Burma, I cannot make enough money or save it. Often, I would only eat fishpaste and rice, but give her meat so that she can have something nutritious. When I heard that she has donors who will help her receive treatment, I felt very happy and thankful to BCMF for this kindness. I never thought she would receive such an opportunity. It makes me so happy that I do not know how to express it in words.”
Thay is a one-year-old girl from Burma. She lives with her parents, grandfather, three sisters and a brother in a village. Thay's mother looks after her and her brother at home, her grandfather is retired, and her sisters go to school. Thay's father works as a porter, but has has difficulty finding work for over a month. With the increasing number of internally displaced people settling in their village due to the humanitarian crisis, there are now many individuals competing for the same work. When Thay was around eight months old, her parents noticed that her head was increasing in size. As a result, Thay cannot yet sit up or crawl. She is only able to turn her head, and will cry if she cannot see her parents. Thay was recently diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which has causes fluid to build up in her brain. Without immediate surgery to alleviate the intracranial pressure, Thay is at risk of developing severe, potentially fatal medical complications. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund the insertion of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt for Thay, which will drain the fluid that has accumulated in her brain. The procedure is scheduled to take place on May 20th and, once completed, will greatly improve Thay's quality of life as she grows up. Thay's father said, "I am thankful to every organisation and everyone for supporting my daughter’s treatment cost. Because of you, I believe that my daughter will receive surgery and be healthy and live a normal life after treatment."
Thaung is a 31-year-old man who is married with one daughter. His wife and him work together as agricultural day laborers. Thaung's monthly income is just enough to meet their daily needs. He shared that he had to borrow money for food from his neighbor when he was out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the military coup in Burma, and he is working to pay them back. In October 2021, Thaung noticed a small ulcer and went to see a retired army doctor who lives in his village. He received some medication, and his ulcer healed. However, a few months later, the growth returned. Thuang and his family were able to fundraise through their church to visit a local hospital. Upon review, he was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor informed him that he would need to undergo surgery. Currently, Thaung is in pain and has difficulty working and sleeping. Fortunately, our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF), can help Thaung receive treatment. On April 11th, he is scheduled to undergo surgery. BCMF is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of his procedure and care. Thaung shared, “When I recover from surgery, I will work hard to pay back my debt to the neighbors we borrowed money from. I want to live with my family for a long time, and I want to support my family as much as I can.”
Darensky is a 10-year-old student from Haiti. He lives with his mother and grandparents in a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. He is in the third grade and likes building things and making crafts. Darensky has a cardiac condition called patent ductus arteriosus and tracheal ring. Two holes exists between two major blood vessels near his heart; blood leaks through this hole without first passing through his lungs, leaving him weak and oxygen-deprived. The treatment that Darensky needs is not available in Haiti, so he will fly to United States to undergo surgery. Many years ago he had one hole closed so this is the second surgery he needs, and his family has been waiting for this moment for a long time. Fortunately, on March 10th, Darensky will undergo cardiac surgery, during which surgeons will close the remaining hole that leaks blood between his two main blood vessels at the same time. During the surgery, he will also have a muscular blockage removed from his trachea that affects his ability to breathe. Another organization, Akron Children's Hospital, is contributing $12,000 to help pay for surgery. Darensky's family also needs help to fund the costs of surgery prep. The $1,500 bill covers labs, medicines, and checkup and followup appointments. It also supports passport obtainment and the social workers from our medical partner, Haiti Cardiac Alliance, who will accompany Darensky's family overseas. HIs mother told us: "I am very happy to know that after this surgery my son will finally be able to run and play normally!"
Roy is a charming and energetic toddler from Tanzania. He is playful and full of smiles. He is the youngest of his single mother's three children. His mother sells cassava root at the local bus station to support their family. Roy was diagnosed with bilateral genu varus. This means Roy has difficulty walking due to his legs bowing outwards. This condition is typically caused by an excessive accumulation of fluoride in the bones, which often stems from contaminated drinking water. As a result, he walks with an abnormal gait and complains of pain and exhaustion after playing or taking a short walk. His surgery is scheduled for February 18th and our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare, is raising $880 to fund Roy's surgery. Treatment will hopefully restore Roy's mobility, allow him to participate in a variety of activities, and greatly decrease his risk of future complications. Roy’s mother says, “My income is very little, I want my son to have his legs corrected but there is no way I can afford the cost.”