Mark's Story

Mark joined Watsi on March 17th, 2015. Seven years ago, Mark joined our Universal Fund, supporting life-changing treatments for a new Watsi patient every month. Mark's most recent donation traveled 1,500 miles to support Brandon, a baby boy from Guatemala, to fund nutritional supplementation.


Mark has funded healthcare for 25 patients in 12 countries.

All patients funded by Mark

Sixteen-month-old Brandon lives with his family in Guatemala’s rural highlands. He is a very serious child and loves to eat all types of food, especially bananas. His father works as a bus driver, and his mother takes care of the household and weaves traditional Mayan textiles. Brandon has acute malnutrition, a dangerous condition caused by consuming too few calories and nutrients, including protein. As a result, Brandon is underweight and small for his age. He has little energy to grow, and his immune system is weak, leaving him vulnerable to illnesses that may further compromise his growth. Long term, he may face undesirable consequences, such as an increased risk of chronic diseases, a low IQ, and a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Fortunately, while malnutrition can have devastating effects, it is also very treatable. Brandon’s mother says that her son has had health problems since he was born. His parents are very worried about him, but they do not have the resources to pay for treatment for their baby boy. With $837 in funding, Brandon will receive growth monitoring, micronutrients, and food supplementation beginning March 13. He will gain weight and grow taller to catch up with other children his age, and his immune system will become stronger with the increased caloric intake. Community health workers will teach his mother to create a nutrient-rich diet with limited resources and provide tools to help his family maintain his nutritious diet. Brandon's mother is grateful for the aid from the program. "I am happy that my son will receive this support so that he can get better and develop,” she shares.

Fully funded

Meet Jyle Lorence, a three-year-old boy who loves to play basketball with neighborhood children. His family lives in a small house made from fly wood and metal sheets. Jyle Lorence's father is a fisherman, but he has difficulty providing for the family with an irregular income. Jyle Lorence's mother stays home to care for him. Jyle's parents have been unable to provide an adequate nutritional diet for their son, and he is malnourished. One out of five children under the age of five in communities served by our medical partner, International Care Ministries (ICM), is either severely or moderately acutely malnourished. Worldwide, poor nutrition is associated with nearly half of all deaths in young children. In remote communities and urban slums of the Philippines, the lack of clean water and unclean environments increase risk for potentially fatal childhood diseases. Fortunately, Jyle Lorence began ICM's malnutrition treatment program on October 17, 2016. ICM runs a Home-Based Feeding program to provide nutrient-enriched food packs and ensure malnourished children get the right nutrients to regain normal weight and achieve optimum physical and mental development. After identifying a child as malnourished, staff and community volunteers make weekly visits to monitor this child’s progress. To help sustain the health of the child, ICM's professional staff educate the mother, guardian or other family members about proper nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, and organic vegetable gardening. "We are looking forward to Jyle Lorence successfully finishing his studies some day," say Jyle Lorence's parents. "We hope he will grow up strong and healthy."

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Mugume is a 39-year-old married man from Uganda who has four children. He and his wife are peasant farmers, and he also does some trading to earn additional money. Even with the extra work, the family's income is minimal, making it difficult to save funds and also provide for the family's needs. Mugume has lived with left scrotal swelling since February 1996. He visited a hospital that year and was diagnosed with a hernia. Over the years, the swelling has increased, making him feel uncomfortable and weak. Mugume visited a hospital again last year and was correctly diagnosed with a hydrocele. A hydrocele is a sac of watery fluid around one or both testicles that causes swelling in the scrotum or groin. The fluid comes from the abdomen and travels along the same paths that the testes follow when they descend into the scrotum before or shortly after birth. While hydroceles may occur at any age, the cause of their development is generally unknown. Mugume will need surgery to treat the hydrocele. During the operation, the surgeon will make a small incision in the scrotum to remove the sac of fluid and then use stitches to close the path between the scrotum and abdomen so that no more fluid can accumulate. The process for Mugume to receive free surgical care has been lengthy, and his family cannot afford to pay for his treatment in a private hospital. If not treated, he will continue experiencing pain and discomfort. “The process for me to get free surgery has become very long, and I’ve lost hope that I will get treatment," shares Mugume. For $185, Mugume will undergo a hydrocele repair to decrease the scrotal swelling. Funding also covers the cost of a three-night hospital stay, an ultrasound scan, and medicine to prevent infection. Mugume hopes to have a successful operation so that he can concentrate on agriculture to earn more money for his family. "I will be glad if you help me," he says.

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Cho The is a 35-year-old woman from Burma. She lives with her husband, her eight-year-old son, and her father. She and her husband were both born and raised in the village where they live. While Cho The used to work alongside her husband on a rubber farm, she has been unable to work for the past three years due to the symptoms she experiences from her condition. Cho The has uterine fibroids, or benign tumors that develop in the uterus and cervix. As a result, her husband has been the only member supporting the family for three years. Her husband can usually only find between two to three days of work per week. The family does not make enough money to pay for their basic needs, including food. They have been forced to take out multiple loans and to borrow money from friends. Cho The's condition has affected the whole family, because not only does she have to worry about taking care of her son, but her father is also partially paralyzed and the family must care for him. Since her symptoms have arisen, she has experienced leg pains, difficulty walking, and an inability to lie down comfortably, which has been affecting her sleep. It has always been Cho The's dream to have many children. Cho The traveled six hours with a friend to Watsi's medical partner, Burma Border Projects, where she will have surgery to remove her fibroids. The $1,500 procedure, along with a seven day hospital stay, will enable her to recover and live free of the pain and other symptoms that hold her back from work. In her free time, Cho The enjoys studying the English language and reading her holy book. She really wants to start working again in order to be able to support her family better. "I hope that I will be able to have more children after surgery and to support my son through his education," said Cho The.

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Beatriz is four months old, and is the only child to her two young parents in Guatemala. She lives with her parents and her maternal grandparents in a house made of wood with a tin roof. Her mother works taking care of Beatriz, and her father searches for wood in the nearby forest, which he then chops up to sell to others in the market. Although both of them work hard to give Beatriz the best they can, they do not make enough money to buy formula--they typically make only $2-$3 per day, just enough to buy basic food and water. Beatriz has fallen into acute malnutrition due to her mother's lack of breast milk. Her mother has been trying to improve her production by taking herbs and other supplements, but they have not given her enough milk to help Beatriz grow. Her mother has tried to help her daughter to stop crying by giving her sugar water to calm her down. Being fed sugar water instead of formula has weakened her immune system, making her get sick often, and putting her at risk of starvation and seizures due to the lack of calories and electrolytes. Although Beatriz is dangerously sick, treatment is simple. By supplying Beatrix with formula and the mother with health education, she will finally receive the calories she needs to grow and thrive. One-on-one education with her mother will prepare Beatriz for when she needs to start eating solid food, as well as help her mother watch for further signs of malnutrition and other illness. Beatriz’s immune system will strengthen and she will grow up to be a healthy energetic baby, and her risk of seizure, starvation and death will be greatly reduced. Her mother says, "I want my daughter to grow. She is small now, but I know she wants to grow."

Fully funded