John Helgason
John's Story

John joined Watsi on April 14th, 2015. 9 other people also joined Watsi on that day! John's most recent donation traveled 8,700 miles to support Crecious, a three-year-old boy from Tanzania, to fund corrective surgery.


John has funded healthcare for 20 patients in 8 countries.

patients you have funded

“We hope that our son can study and one day become a teacher,” shares the mother of 6-month-old Kevin. Kevin lives with his older brother and parents in a one-room cinderblock house in Guatemala. His mother works at home, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of Kevin and his brother. His father works as an assistant bricklayer, building houses and churches in nearby communities. Although Kevin’s parents want the best for their son, they do not have the resources to feed him even one vegetable, piece of fruit, or egg—the minimum that he needs to be able to overcome malnutrition. Kevin's mother noticed that her son is not growing well and is underweight, but did not realize that she was supposed to start feeding her son complementary foods. Subsequently, his current diet lacks protein, calories, and nutrients. If he does not receive treatment, Kevin could face the consequences of malnutrition for the rest of his life—he could have a low IQ, trouble focusing in school, and a greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension as an adult. All these consequences make it less likely he will have a well-paying job as an adult, meaning the cycle of poverty and malnutrition would continue if he decides to have kids. Growth monitoring, micronutrient and food supplementation, and deworming medication will help Kevin recover from malnutrition. He will gain weight and grow taller to catch up with other children his age. His immune system will grow stronger with the increased caloric intake. This will further increase his appetite and help him use the extra calories to gain motor skills and learn new words instead of those calories being wasted on getting over frequent illnesses. In addition to Kevin's treatment, his mother will receive the support she need to feel empowered to give Kevin the diet he needs to grow and develop healthily, even with limited resources. Intervention now will give Kevin the chance to live a healthy and productive life and escape the cycle of malnutrition and poverty that made him sick in the first place.

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“Sometimes my daughter asks me what’s wrong with her arm and I feel so upset. I don’t know what to say,” says the mother of Hnin, a five-year-old girl from Burma suffering from a contracture of her arm. Normally elastic, the muscles in Hnin’s index finger, wrist and elbow have become tight and rigid—making it impossible for Hnin to bend her arm properly. It is difficult for her to perform everyday activities like getting dressed or playing with friends. Our medical partner, Burma Border Projects (BBP), explains: The contractures are an unexpected side effect of a previous operation Hnin underwent when she was just a few months old, in which doctors made “an incision from underneath her armpit to the tip of her index finger” to reduce intense swelling of Hnin’s arm. As an active child who wants to attend school, “Hnin follows the other children to school and stands outside looking in. Sometimes my daughter’s friends ask her what happened to her arm, and they play doctors, pretending to cut the contraction,” shares BBP. Hnin’s mother and father work as agricultural day laborers, farming corn and beans. They were forced to work full-time to cover the expenses associated with Hnin’s previous surgery, so Hnin lives with her grandmother. “However, their work is irregular and the family earns enough to cover daily expenses, but they don’t have savings or money to pay for Hnin’s healthcare,” adds BBP. After borrowing money for Hnin’s previous surgery at 20% interest, “the interest quickly accumulated and the couple had trouble paying it off.” With the support of Hnin’s make-believe doctor pals, Watsi donors, and physicians at BBP’s Mae Tao Clinic in Thailand, Hnin’s treatment and recovery can be made possible. $1,500 in Watsi funding, along with $1,585 in subsidies from BBP, will cover a contracture release surgery for Hnin, in which doctors will make incisions in her arm to remove the abnormal tissue. BBP predicts, “Following treatment it is hoped that Hnin will have full use of her arm and will then be able to attend school in Burma with her friends.” Her mother is looking forward to moving back to Burma to live with her daughter as soon as possible. Let’s help this adorable five-year-old regain use of her arm so she can live a normal childhood!

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Meet Francis, a 13-year-old boy from Kenya. Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), says, “Francis is the fourth born in a family of seven and all of his siblings are in school, where Francis is in class five.” Francis’s parents used to farm in a forest, until they were given notice to stop because some people were illegally cutting trees in the area. AMHF says, “Now Francis’s father works as a casual laborer on nearby farms, and he is barely able to put food on the table at the end of the day; his family has had to go many days without food.” Two weeks ago, Francis broke both of his legs. AMHF tells us, “Francis was in the forest playing with friends and looking for firewood for the household to use when he fell from a tree.” Both of his legs have bilateral midshaft femur fractures, and because of this he cannot walk and is on pain management medication. AMHF goes on to say, “If the surgery is not done soon, Francis could develop infection or suffer malunion and he would not be able to attend school in September - but if treated, he will be able to use crutches and move around a bit.” Francis needs orthopedic surgery to open the area around the broken bones and realign them with metal hardware. This procedure costs $1,410 and AMHF reports, “After the surgery and recovery, Francis will be able to resume school and walk normally again.” “I was begging the hospital to treat my son and hold me here to work off the bill when the doctor called," his father shares. "This support is a miracle from God.”

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Meet Orbele, a 15-year-old boy from Tanzania. Orbele lives with his aunt, uncle, and three cousins. According to our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), Orbele is a “polite boy who enjoys studying mathematics and history.” Outside of school, Orbele used to enjoy playing soccer, but due to bilateral genu valgus ("knocked knees"), he is currently restricted to a more sedentary lifestyle. Bilateral genu valgus occurs when the knees angle outwards, ultimately causing the lower legs to be positioned away from each other. While this is a common condition in very young children and typically resolves itself naturally, Orbele’s case has only worsened with time. “Orbele’s legs started to bend inwards when he was nine years old,” explains AMHF. Now, “he is unable to walk without knocking his knees. The condition has affected his gait and ability to walk or run quickly—he also complains of pain, especially on his left knee after walking a long distance.” Unless he receives treatment, Orbele risks developing osteoarthritis. AMHF says that while his aunt and uncle “love Orbele very much and would like to see him able to walk like he used to,” they do not have the income to cover his treatment costs and support the rest of the family. With $940, Orbele will undergo surgery to straighten and realign his legs. Included in the total cost of treatment, Orbele will receive specialist care from Plaster House—a rehabilitation program. During his three months at Plaster House, Orbele will have two weeks of intensive physiotherapy, which will be critical to his successful recovery. Following surgery and rehabilitation, AMHF shares, “Orbele will be able to walk properly and will decrease his chances of developing osteoarthritis at a young age.” Orbele shares, “I dream of becoming a primary school teacher!”

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