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Volunteers Raise Funds for Dehradun

            Hundreds of Interplast medical volunteers generously donate their time every year to help patients around the world.  Now, they are raising funds to help even more patients at our year-round site in Dehradun, India.  The volunteers are trying to raise an additional $29,000 to ensure that 60 patients will receive surgery in the next two months as part of the Interplast Outreach program in Dehradun, India.   

Drs. Yogi and Kush Aeron, father and son, direct our program in Dehradun. They are committed not only to the surgical problem of each patient, but also to caring for each patient and the accompanying family member as a whole.  Several patients who have been abandoned because of their injuries and deformities are actually living with them and employed at the clinic.  Their own living room has been converted to a recovery ward when their clinic overflows with patients.

Dehradun is truly an exceptional site. It has many patients with disabling burns who need our help, as India is the epicenter of the global burn crisis. It has great local doctors who provide excellent care year-round.  And it is place where our volunteer surgical teams provide training, collaborate with the local medical staff and help with the overwhelming number of cases.

    To help our devoted volunteers reach their goal to assist their colleagues in Dehradun, please pass the word to your friends and/or donate today.  Please be sure to click the “Medical Volunteer Fund Drive” button.  Thank you.

   Photo of Dr. Janet Volpe and Dehradun patient, by John Urban.  

Helping Children, Honoring Nurses: Barco’s Nightingales Foundation

Interplast’s partner the Barco’s Nightingales Foundation officially launched today, on Florence Nightingale’s birthday and during National Nurses’ Week.

 “It’s mission: To elevate and promote nursing, while also honoring the compassionate spirit of the profession by focusing our funding on helping children,” said Michael Donner, director, president and CEO of the foundation.  “For more than 80 years, Barco Uniforms has been designing and manufacturing professional wear for people who devote their lives to caring for others. The Foundation is our way of paying tribute to the many generations of nurses for their tremendous contribution in making the world a better place.”

Interplast is proud to partner with the Barco’s Nightingales Foundation. We greatly appreciate their devotion to children around the world and their promotion and honoring of nurses.  Several of our nurse volunteers as well as Nicole Friedland and Beverly Kent of our staff, will serve on their advisory board and/or council.

To learn more, please visit the foundation website.  Photo by Phil Borges.

Interplast Finalist in InterAction Photo Contest


Interplast is proud to be a finalist in InterAction’s photo contest.  Our thanks to Phil Borges for capturing this image,
“The Isolation of the Burned.”

In Sri Lanka and throughout the Global South, burn survivors often live in an unseen world, ostracized and hidden from society because of their disfigurements and disabilities.   This photo of Iresha looking out her window wearing a mask to reduce scarring captures the isolation and stigma burn survivors suffer.  The image echoes the words of Dr. Chandini Perera, Interplast's partner in Sri Lanka and Iresha’s surgeon.  “Burns is a painful disease-- emotionally and physically.  The treatment is painful.  The follow up is painful.  The response from society is painful. Survivors, unlike someone with a terminal illness, they don’t die; they actually live, but you can’t see them because they can’t come out.  Society will not accept them.”
Compounding the prejudices against them, many women, like Iresha, receive their burns through acts of violence. But burns are most often caused by accidents, as the billion plus living in extreme poverty still uses open fires for lighting and cooking.  The number of women burned each year also is staggering: nearly 4 million women fall victim to a severe burn from fire each year—the same number who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS every year. According to the World Health Organization, women in Southeast Asia (which includes Sri Lanka and India) who survive burns lose more productive years from fire burns than from malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. That is because burns can cause debilitating contractures that restrict crucial functions, like bending an arm or walking, and left untreated can leave one disabled and without income forever.

Thankfully, Iresha is one of the lucky survivors who is receiving reconstructive surgery to restore her abilities and will have a second chance at life, but getting there will be difficult journey.

National Nurses Week (May 6-12)

14412032_a01b9c2e02 Interplast is thankful for the hundreds of nurses who have volunteered their time to help transform the lives of children around the world.  Many of the nurses use most of their vacation time (two weeks each year) to go overseas as part of our volunteer surgical teams.  They make our operating rooms work. They care and comfort children who are in recovery.  They teach and build the medical capacity in developing countries.  Interplast appreciates all of their hard work and devotion.  We wouldn’t be Interplast without them.  Thank you.

Kayaking for a Cause---for Interplast!

DSC00029In February, our Facebook fans learned about Katey and Doug, a couple in Washington state who are about to embark on a 1,300 mile kayaking journey to Alaska. It will take 4 months for them to achieve this goal. They are “Kayaking for a Cause”---for Interplast.  Recently, Doug wrote an amazing post on why they are doing this.  We share it with you below, but we encourage you to follow their blog throughout their journey.

We are often asked why we are kayaking 'for a cause' rather than just kayaking. Katey and I have both done extended trips, and when we travel in a way or place that is less mainstream we always meet people who are curious about what we are doing. We will see a lot less people on this trip than we have on previous ones, but with the aid of the Internet we figure we are still going to meet a lot of people who are curious about what it is like to paddle 1300 miles through such a wild place. After a while, you end up having the same conversations over and over, so we thought maybe we could answer the big question up front.

To many, taking 4 months to travel is beyond decadent (they don't always think about sleeping in a tent, in the rain, and the cold, and the years of thrifty living to save up). But this is what we love and how we live our lives and I believe that helping people is not about dropping everything and risking life, limb, or financial ruin it's about finding a sustainable way to give back in small ways over the course of your life. Our cause is our way of giving back while living our "normal" lives. It would be a lot easier to just kayak and not have to worry about keeping up a blog, fund raising, or disappointing people if we don't reach our goals. But this is something that we can incorporate into our lives right now and something that we wholeheartedly believe in. We thought those who share our interests may also share our desire to help other people. Thus kayaking for a cause.

The logical cause to help promote while kayaking may have been one of the many great environmental causes, someone who focuses on access to clean water, or better yet someone committed to sustainable fisheries. But to us this is more personal. We chose Interplast because we love that they help people who are not helped by the larger programs, and what they do has a lasting impact on a person's life. By providing free reconstructive surgeries, and helping to train doctors to provide the same types of services, they give someone who is often overlooked the chance to live a productive life. Children in poor countries born with deformities like cleft palates or lips may not be able to go to school simply because they look or speak differently.

And burn victims and accident victims live in pain because they have no access to surgeries that would give them back freedom of movement. By providing corrective surgeries, Interplast does much more than what we might think of when we hear 'plastic surgery.' In a poor country, with limited healthcare, a deformity or injury may keep someone from being able to support themselves or their family, or being accepted in their community. Many times, the costs of these surgeries is small, but the impact is always big. Even a small donation can go a long ways towards helping someone.

Katey graduates from Nursing school in four days (yeeha!!). One of her goals in life is to help people in developing countries. Her dream job is to work for someone like Interplast, and to work directly with people in need. This is a way to learn the fundraising side of such endeavors and hopefully will be a valuable experience to apply to her future work.

Personally, I've had my own experience with reconstructive surgery. When I was 8 years old I fell off my bike (this is where my mom would emphatically point out that I was riding no-handed). I knocked out six teeth and broke my jaw on both sides. I recovered fine, but because of my age my jaw didn't grow like it should, and when I was 17 I had to have my upper and lower jaws reconstructed. I could have that surgery because we had health insurance, and we had access to doctors who could do it. I have taken it pretty much for granted, but when I think about what it would be like if I couldn't have had that surgery I know what an impact Interplast could have on someone's life.

So that's why. We think Interplast is important, and it makes us feel good to help raise money and awareness for the work they do. You can help us meet our fundraising goals and give back too by Donating Now.

Interplast sends tremendous thanks to Katey and Doug and wishes them well on their journey

Celebrating Mothers Around the World

Although they come from disparate cultures and backgrounds, these mothers exemplify the strength, generosity and unconditional love that we celebrate in mothers around the world. Here are a few of the many stories of brave mothers who have touched Interplast.

We're happy to introduce you to Hoa, Mary and Jacqueline. Your donation today makes a difference in mothers' lives all around the globe.

Quang Ngai, Vietnam

HoaiL  HoaiL2 
Photo by Zane Williams

Hoa, a young mother, knew intimately the stigma of a cleft lip as she had been born with one herself.  Therefore, she eagerly sought help from Interplast when her son Hoai was also born with a cleft lip.  Hoa and her son live with a mountain tribe in a remote area of Vietnam.  She traveled a long way to have Hoai seen and waited patiently for him to be evaluated.  To her delight, Hoai qualified for surgery.

What she did not expect was that, in the process of screening little Hoai, our surgeons noticed that she too could benefit from a surgical revision of her cleft repair.  Hoa had selflessly brought her son in with only his future in mind, and now her life also would be improved.  Rarely is Interplast given the opportunity to perform surgeries on both mother and child. In this situation, we were greatly honored to do so. Donate Now.

Kabwe, Zambia

Photo by Phil Borges

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.

Mateo's injuries were so severe that he could not move his neck or hand. Although the surgery from Interplast 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 was 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.  
 Donate Now.

Loja, Ecuador

Photo by Adam Forgash

Jacqueline's 25-year-old daughter, Andrea, is her pride and joy.  When Andrea was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, Jacqueline stood firm by her daughter, often against society's stares and whispers.  Jacqueline and Andrea live in Loja, Ecuador, a small town in the Andes. Back in 1985, getting Andrea help seemed almost impossible.  However, Jacqueline's motherly determination and incessant inquires ultimately led Andrea to become Interplast's first patient in Loja. 

After a number of surgeries, Andrea is now in nursing school and exudes remarkable confidence.  Jacqueline has always given Andrea the type of unconditional love and support that have been crucial in getting Andrea through numerous surgeries.  Because of her mother's support, Andrea goes through life with her head held high.  Donate Now.

A better life for their children is a dream shared by mothers around the world. Your donations help us fulfill that dream.  Donate Now.

Global Health