Peter Holfelder
Peter's Story

Peter joined Watsi on March 27th, 2014. 12 other people also joined Watsi on that day! Peter's most recent donation traveled 8,800 miles to support Sokhim, a weaver from Cambodia, for a mastoidectomy surgery to restore her hearing.


Peter has funded healthcare for 19 patients in 8 countries.

patients you have funded

Sela is an eight-month-old baby girl from Cambodia. Sela is living with syndactyly--she has webbed fingers and an extra digit on her left hand. Due to these abnormalities, it has been very difficult for Stela to use her hand. Thus, she and her mother traveled three hours to seek the help of our medical partner, Children’s Surgical Centre (CSC). Under normal conditions, the webbing dissolves, leaving five independent digits on every extremity. With syndactyly, on the other hand, the degradation of the tissue between fingers or toes is left incomplete during gestation and, in a few cases, like Sela’s, the webbing also covers an extra digit wedged in between. This specific situation, known as “polysyndactyly,” is a very rare occurrence, but when treated early in life it does not present lasting complications. However, if left unaddressed, Sela will lose significant functionality in her left hand. For $321, Sela will undergo a syndactyly repair, which will include a release to separate her fingers and a procedure to remove her extra digit. She will have also receive a skin graft to help heal her remaining digits. The funds will also cover supplies, inpatient care for ten days, and follow up visits for up to one year after the procedure. Because of the skin graft, this operation can be slightly more complicated than other surgeries, but CSC’s medical team says that the benefits of surgery (releasing Sela’s digits and allowing her to live a comfortable life) outweigh the minor risks. Sela’s parents are grateful and eager to have her surgery done. “I hope my daughter will have a normal hand like other people after surgery,” shares Sela’s mother.

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“Lencer is a young child with a long medical history,” reports our medical partner in Kenya, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF). When he was nine months old, he fell sick with meningitis; he has contracted pneumonia six times since his birth; and now, at three years old, Lencer has contracted tuberculosis. “Lencer has battled his previous medical complications with zeal,” AMHF tells us. However, fighting these near-constant illnesses “has drained his family’s income,” leaving them unprepared to cope financially with the most recent medical problem that has beset Lencer: severe hearing loss in both ears. Lencer’s hearing problems are sensorineural, meaning they originate in his inner ear, and could have been caused by a variety of factors, from disease to head trauma. According to AMHF, “if not assisted with the hearing aids, Lencer may not be able to communicate effectively”—a deficiency that could have profound implications for the child’s social life, language learning, academic abilities, and career. $920 will purchase two hearing aids—one for each of Lencer’s ears. With these devices in place, “Lencer will be able to use speech and hearing for communication,” AMHF tells us. “I feel emotionally weak that my child has to pass through all these medical complications,” shares Lencer’s father. “My only wish is to have God heal him and for him to grow as a healthy child.” Let’s help make that wish a reality for this family.

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40-year-old Taw is a farmer who lives with her husband, son, and four daughters in Burma. Her family practices swidden agriculture—a rotational farming method in which different plots of land are cleared for cultivation each year—to grow rice, green beans, and cucumbers to feed themselves. Taw spent several months away from her husband and children while receiving treatment for choriocarcinoma, a cancer of the uterus that occurs during pregnancy. The fast-growing cancer cells develop within the tissue that becomes the placenta. Costs associated with Taw’s previous medical care have left the family with a large amount of debt. With no income from the farm and no external sources of financial support, they have no means of paying for additional treatment for Taw or even education fees or clothes for the children. In addition, the shifting of roles within the family has decreased productivity on the farm and puts them at risk of not producing enough food to feed themselves. “Taw’s current symptoms include gripping abdominal pain and tight muscle spasms in her lower back that force her to lie down,” our medical partner, Burma Border Projects (BBP), tells us. “She experiences ongoing bleeding, has spells of dizziness and headaches, and is easily fatigued.” “Taw has been unable to work, and her husband has taken time off to care for her and their sick daughter,” BBP continues. “This has forced their 14-year-old daughter to drop out of school and to take up considerable responsibility to support the family.” For $1500, Taw will undergo a hysterectomy to remove her uterus. Funding also covers the costs of pre- and post-surgical consultations, seven days of hospital care, and transportation to and from the hospital. “It is hoped that surgery will improve the health condition and comfort of Taw so that she can return to her family,” says BBP. “When I recover, I will work hard to provide for my children," Taw shares.

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Mercy is a six-month-old girl from Kenya. She was brought to our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), by her parents and her uncle. Mercy lives in a two room house with six other siblings where her mother watches over the family at home and nearby, her father works in a tea factory. When Mercy was born, she developed a sac-like protrusion on the lower backbone. This open defect on her spine, a condition called spina bifida, has already been hindering her normal development for the last few months. The congenital deformity is often a consequence of fetal hydrocephalus where cerebrospinal fluid adds pressure to the spinal cord. “Mercy came to the hospital with a leaking mass, so surgery must be done [promptly] to avoid severe infection and other complications,” explains AMHF. If her condition goes untreated, tethered cord syndrome is likely to develop, resulting in a permanently hunched back or a spine bent sideways. Mercy requires $805 for a spina bifida closure surgery, in which a surgeon will correct, reconstruct, and close the deformity. Long term monitoring and braces are part of the treatment process to observe her walking ability and gauge surgery success. AMHF believes the surgery will eliminate infections, prevent more nerve damage in the future, and decrease her chances of developing tethered cord syndrome. Mercy's father says, "I hope Mercy will get treatment and this condition will be past us. Please help us make her treatment possible."

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Two-month-old Whithines is a quiet, active baby girl who lives in Tanzania. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), tells us, “Whithines was born without problems and was feeding and growing well until two weeks ago, when her mother noticed her daughter’s forehead was increasing in size. Her head was getting heavier and softer.” Whithines’s increasing head size is the result of hydrocephalus, a condition in which there is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. In an infant, too much fluid—the result of infection, trauma, malformation of the central nervous system, or genetic defect—can increase pressure on the brain and inside the skull, leading to an enlarged head and developmental issues. Treatment for Whithines is a shunt to drain the excess fluid from her brain. In this procedure, doctors place a shunt into the ventricles and connect it to a tube that runs under the skin and empties into the abdomen, where the excess fluid can be resorbed by the body. Whithines’s grandparents support her and her young parents financially, but they do not earn enough money as small-scale farmers to pay for the procedure that Whithines needs. $775 will fund surgery to place the shunt, as well as five days of hospital care and two weeks’ accommodations at The Plaster House, a home where children can recover after surgery. AMHF says, “Whithines’s head will no longer continue to increase in size, and she will no longer be at risk of losing her vision.” “We love her dearly,” says Whithines’s mother. “We hope she will get better and later on have the ability to go to school and get a good career.”

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