Stephen Zerfas
Stephen's Story

Stephen joined Watsi on September 25th, 2016. 16 other people also joined Watsi on that day! Stephen's most recent donation supported Alyn, a two-year-old girl from Guatemala, for malnutrition treatment and formula.


Stephen has funded healthcare for 78 patients in 11 countries.

Patients funded by Stephen

Two-year-old Alyn lives with her parents and her older sister in a one-room cinderblock house in Guatemala. Her favorite thing to do is to play with her dolls and plastic tea set with her older sister. Alyn’s parents are worried because they have noticed their daughter is getting sick more often than the other children in their village, and won’t eat any food that isn’t a liquid. Alyn’s poor appetite, weak immune system, and slow growth are due to acute malnutrition. These symptoms all make it likelier that Alyn will have lower-paying job as an adult and will also raise children with malnutrition. However, Alyn’s parents cannot currently afford to feed her the vegetables and protein that she needs in order to escape the acute stage of malnutrition that she has fallen into. Although Alyn’s parents work hard as a seamstress and day laborer, together they make only about a couple dollars per day. For $512, we can help Alyn recover. She will receive food supplements, deworming medication, and lab tests that will ensure she develops at a healthy pace, both mentally and physically. Her parents will also receive motivational nutrition education so they can learn how to best feed Alyn on their budget. If Alyn receives treatment now, she will be able to have normal mental and physical development, giving her a better chance to be a successful student and to one day be qualified for a well-paying job. “We dream that our daughter will be a great teacher,” shares Alyn’s mother.

Fully funded

Born less than one month ago, Quinel lives with her parents and older sister in a one-room rental house in Kenya. Her mother is a housewife, and her father is employed casually as a carpenter. Quinel was born with a cystic mass on her lower back. Her condition—known as spina bifida—is a birth defect in which several vertebrae in the lower back do not close properly, leaving the baby’s spinal canal exposed. The spinal cord and its surrounding membranes protrude through the opening in the backbone, forming a sac on the baby’s lower back. Without treatment, Quinel is at a risk of acquiring infections and experiencing delayed physical development. In children with spina bifida, the exposed spinal canal allows the spinal cord to attach to other tissues in the lower back. The cord can become tethered to those tissues and cannot move freely within the spinal canal, leading to back or leg pain, weakness or numbness of the legs or feet, and difficulty standing or walking. Doctors immediately referred Quinel for specialized treatment at BethanyKids Kijabe Hospital to save her from the effects that come with the condition. At BethanyKids, an immediate operation is required at a cost, but Quinel’s parents are not able to raise the funds required for her surgical care. For $1097, Quinel will undergo a surgical procedure to place her spinal cord back inside the spinal canal and close the opening on her back. Funding for Quinel also covers the costs of a ten-day hospital stay, three days of physical therapy, imaging, lab tests, and medicine. "It's a tough battle, but I believe we will get through," share Quinel's mother. "My utmost prayer is that Quinel gets treated."

Fully funded

19-month-old Maria lives with her five-year-old brother and mother in a rented room in Guatemala. Maria's mother used to work selling tea in the market, but due to Maria's special needs, she has had to quit and is dependent on her in-laws for money and for the small room in which they live. Maria's mother says that Maria's favorite things are to listen to classical music and to watch the world around her. Maria previously received treatment for acute malnutrition thanks to Watsi donors. She has recovered well, and is nearing a normal weight and height for her age. Now that she has grown bigger and stronger, and her life is no longer in danger, she is in need of physical and speech therapy to catch up on developmental milestones that she has missed out on because of poor nutrition and because of microcephalus that she was born with. Microcephalus is a condition in which a baby's head is significantly smaller than expected, often due to abnormal brain development. Despite being over a year and a half old, she cannot sit up on her own - a developmental milestone that most healthy children reach by six months of age. She has not begun to speak yet, either, and is in need of special therapy to help her develop mentally and gain motor skills. This treatment, which costs $452, will give Maria intensive speech and physical therapy for six months, helping her to catch up with developmental milestones, and helping her become more independent. This treatment will help Maria develop the strength to sit up on her own, turn over, and crawl, and help her learn to communicate.

Fully funded