Ben joined Watsi on December 23rd, 2013. Six years ago, Ben became the 163rd member to automatically support a new Watsi patient every month. Since then, 5,629 more people have become monthly donors! Ben's most recent donation traveled 8,300 miles to support Poe, a five-year-old from Burma, to fund his spleen removal for thalassemia.
Ben has funded healthcare for 73 patients in 11 countries.
Poe is a five-year old boy who lives with his family in Shwe Koke Ko village of Karen State in Burma. In his free time, Poe likes to play with his friends and toys. He also likes to eat sweets. Poe does not go to school because of his condition. Poe's mother and father are divorced, and both are remarried. His father lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand and he contributes to Poe’s financial wellbeing by giving the household 5000 baht (approx. $167 USD) per month. His mother does not provide the family with any extra income. Poe stays with his grandmother and great grandmother from his father's side. His grandmother works as a cleaner. The rest of the family does not currently have work. When Poe was eight months old, he got a severe fever and his family took him to the Wang Pha clinic near Mae Sot, Thailand, which is the same place where he was born. He was admitted at the clinic for three days, but his condition did not improve. Doctors at the clinic told his family to take him to Mae Sot Hospital (MSH) for further investigation. The family immediately took him to MSH and he was admitted for one week. At MSH, he received a blood test and was diagnosed with Thalassemia, a blood disorder. He received a blood transfusion and after the transfusion, Poe felt better, but only temporarily. His family went back for three follow-up appointments to MSH, where he had blood transfusions each time. When he was one year and five months old, the family could not afford going to MSH any longer, so they took Poe to Myawaddy Hospital. He received another blood transfusion and an IV line. He was admitted for three days at the hospital. Although he felt better after getting discharged in Myawaddy, since his condition is chronic, he needs regular blood transfusions to stay healthy. It became increasingly difficult for the family to pay for Poe’s care, however, they decided to come to Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) for further help in 2016. Since then, he has received many blood transfusions at MTC, sometimes monthly and sometimes bi-monthly. With these treatments, he is able to survive. However, his condition also affects his spleen, the organ that filters blood. To prevent further problems, medics at MTC told his family that doctors need to remove Poe's spleen. Since it cannot be done at MTC, he needs to go back to MSH to undergo the operation. Currently, Poe has frequent bloody noses, coughs up blood, and has blood in his stool. He feels better after having a transfusion, but it wears off in the weeks following the procedure. When its nearing time for another transfusion, he feels weak and tired. When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, Poe was adamant that he wanted to be a medic. “I want to help people,” he said. “When he sees people that are sick, he always tells me he feels sorry for them,” added his great grandmother.
Karen is a two-year-old child from Tanzania, who is the last born child in a family of four children. Karen’s father works at a mine while her mother works as a storekeeper at a local school. Through their income, they are able to support their family's basic needs. Karen was diagnosed with bilateral genu varus, meaning her legs curve outward. 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 struggles to walk. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare, is requesting $838 to fund corrective surgery for Karen. The procedure is scheduled to take place on February 13th. Treatment will hopefully restore Karen's mobility, allow her to participate in a variety of activities, and greatly decrease her risk of future complications. Karen’s father says, “Please help my daughter get this treatment so that she will be able to walk well without pain.”
Ezra is a four-year-old from Tanzania who is the first born to a family of three children. His parents are small scale farmers who depend on what they harvest for their daily living. Ezra has clubfoot of both feet. Clubfoot is a condition in which the foot is twisted out of shape. This causes difficulty walking and even wearing shoes. Fortunately, Ezra traveled to visit our medical partner's care center, Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre. There, surgeons will perform clubfoot repair surgery on January 7th. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $890 to fund Ezra's clubfoot repair. After treatment, he will be able to walk easily. Ezra’s mother says, “We had no idea that our son’s condition was treatable but through education and seeing other children who had similar condition getting treatment, this has given us hope but our biggest challenge now is that we can’t afford the treatment cost please help us.”
Hnin is a mother of two from Burma. She lives with her husband and two sons, and she is always busy with housework. Since a few months after surgery to remove the cyst in her uterus in 2017, Hnin has been experiencing lower abdominal pain and abnormal bleeding. She has been diagnosed with Myoma. She has been advised to undergo a total abdominal hysterectomy, the surgical removal of her uterus and cervix. If left untreated, Hnin's symptoms will continue to worsen and put her at risk for further health complications in the future. Fortunately, Hnin is scheduled to undergo her hysterectomy and 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 bleeding. Moreover, the surgery will stop the mass from reappearing later. Hnin said, “I want to continue to work purchasing clothes and other goods from Mae Sot and selling them in Yangon to earn an income for my family. Because of my condition, I am not able to work for two years now.”
Nisriya is a young beautiful and playful girl from Ethiopia. Nisriya is the second-born girl in a family of three girls. She comes from a peasant family where her father is the sole breadwinner of the family. He is a casual labourer who relies on daily wages to make ends meet. Her mother is a housewife who delivered her third child in September 2019. Nisriya was born with an anorectal malformation, a congenital abnormality that leads to a complete or partial intestinal blockage. She needs to undergo a series of procedures to eliminate bowel dysfunction. She had a colostomy done but it is currently giving her multiple issues. She faces stigma from society forcing her parents to hide her from the public realm. If not treated, she will be at risk of infections in the colostomy area and continue suffering discrimination. After her recovery, Nisriya will no longer experience bowel dysfunction or be at risk of developing health complications in the future. Nisriya is scheduled to undergo surgery to correct her condition on November 14th. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $1,500 to cover the total cost of Nisriya's procedure and care. Her dad said, “It is my hope that my child will get successful surgery and I hope when she heal completely she will go to school. And I hope I will get her a good school working hard since she loves education."
Yonase is a young boy from Ethiopia. Yonase is a handsome and playful boy who loves playing football. He comes from a humble family. His mother does menial jobs to sustain the family including laundry for wages. Yonase was born with hypospadias, a birth defect that disrupts the normal flow of urine. His mother did not know of the defect and was told by a neighbour. He is not able to pass urine while standing like any other boy. If not treated, Yonase will be at risk of infertility and social stigma. He was reviewed in our facility where surgery to correct the defect was recommended. With limited income, the mother is afraid he will not be able to receive surgery. She is stressed with her son's conditions. She appeals for financial assistance. Fortunately, Yonase is scheduled to undergo corrective surgery on October 17th. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $1,231 to cover the total cost of his procedure and care. Yonase's mother says, "I am now hopeful that he will get the surgery and that he will be ok."
Mary walks into my office with the top of her cardigan covering her chin. She sits on the chair opposite me with one hand clasping the top of her black cardigan to veil the swell running from her jawline to her neck. The lower lip protrudes with a peeping swelling attached in so that her upper lip cannot touch the lower one. This has been Mary’s life for over 6 months. Late last year, Mary developed a small swelling on her jaw. It was not painful and therefore she did not think of it as serious. As time passed, the swell grew in size. Mary who could eat just about anything now has restrictions on what she can eat. There is pain when she bends and this has also obstructed her working. Mary is married with two children. She was a subsistence farmer before the condition restricted her activities. Mary and her husband depend on one of their daughter who sells second-hand clothes. Besides helping her parents, she has four children under her care. Mary says, “Please help me because I can barely eat."
Abraham is a toddler from Tanzania. Since he was born, Abraham has been experiencing difficulty breathing. He was recently diagnosed with enlarged adenoids, which are the soft tissue behind the nasal cavity. Without treatment, this condition will cause Abraham's symptoms to persist and possibly even intensify. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $609 to fund an adenoidectomy for Abraham, which is scheduled to take place on August 9. Surgeons will remove his adenoids, hopefully relieving Abraham of his symptoms and helping him live more comfortably. Sabrina’s mother says, “The type of treatment we could afford has not helped treat his condition. We have been informed surgery is going to make him better agin but we are unable to afford the cost please help fund my son’s treatment cost.”
Christian is a baby from Kenya. He was born with hypospadias, a congenital abnormality that causes urinary dysfunction. Without treatment, he will continue to experience uncomfortable symptoms and will be at risk of infertility. Fortunately, Christian is scheduled to undergo corrective surgery on July 2. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation, is requesting $700 to cover the total cost of his procedure and care. “I do not have another source of income. Please help me,” says Christine’s mother.
Esther was born with a cardiac condition called ventricular septal defect, in which a hole exists between the two lower chambers of her heart. Blood leaks through this hole without passing through her lungs to obtain oxygen, leaving her sick and short of breath. Esther lives in Port-au-Prince with her parents; she likes listening to music and going to church with her parents. Esther will fly to India to receive treatment. On August 6, she will undergo cardiac surgery. Another organization, Rotary International, is contributing $8,000 to pay for surgery. Her 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 her family overseas.
Zaw is a 14-year-old student from Burma. He lives with his parents, grandmother, two aunts, brother, and cousin. Both his parents are middle school teachers. Zaw was diagnosed with a heart condition that involves a malformation of the mitral valve, the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle. This valve controls the flow of blood, but certain conditions may cause blood to flow backward or the valve to narrow. Our medical partner, Burma Children Medical Fund, is requesting $1,500 to fund a mitral valve replacement for Zaw. The treatment is scheduled to take place on May 22 and, once completed, will hopefully allow him to live more comfortably. “Before he was able to study and memorize his homework well. But now he has difficulty studying and memorizing,” says his father.
Stephen is a young boy from Kenya. He was diagnosed with cryptorchidism, a condition in which one or both of the testicles remains undescended. If left untreated, Stephen has an increased risk of developing hernias, testicular cancer, and fertility problems in the future. Stephen will be receiving assistance from our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF). Fortunately, he is scheduled to undergo corrective surgery on April 15. AMHF is requesting $542 to cover the total cost of his procedure and care. “Please help me because no matter what I do, it would take my husband and I years to raise the needed funds,” says Stephen’s mother.