Heal children's lives with corrective surgery

Dec 6, 2012

Children's Lives Transformed

Ritima's hand before surgery


Ritima is a 6-year-old girl from the far eastern plains of Nepal. She was born with a birth defect known as syndactyly, which means fused fingers on both hands. Ritima was reluctant to go to school because of her abnormal-looking hands. She had been the subject of ridicule among her peers and feared due to superstitions about birth defects. She was isolated from her peers and community. Ritima came to our attention while the mobile medical team was in Biratnagar, near her hometown, during one of our screening camps. Functionally, her condition did not handicap her, but if left untreated, it could cause the longer of the two fingers to bend towards the shorter one during growth, and leave it bent, even if separated.

Once Ritima knew her fingers could be separated and . ,look normal, she was very happy. A key challenge in helping children like Ritima, who live in rural areas of Nepal, is that it can take many hours to reach the nearest clinic or medical assistance. From where Ritima lives, it usually takes more than 18 hours of bus travel to get to Kathmandu. Because of our rural outreach surgical camps, she only had to travel 4-5 hours to get to Biratnagar. After Ritima had her surgery in Biratnagar, she was delighted during the first dressing change to see her fingers separate. We did the surgery on only one hand because bandaging and plaster on both the hands makes it difficult for the children to take care of themselves. We performed surgery successfully on the other hand three months later. Ritima is now back in school and playing with her friends, and enjoying her life with her family. Instead of a life of isolation and no opportunities, she now has a promising future.

As we near the close of 2012, Children's Medical Aid Foundation (CMAF) is pleased to celebrate the Nepalese children whose lives have been transformed by corrective surgery, sponsored through support of our Corrective Surgery Program. Under the direction of Nepalese plastic surgeon Dr. Shankar Rai, 131 children received corrective surgeries and physical therapy treatments. Thirty percent of these surgeries were performed at Kathmandu Model Hospital by the Plastic Surgery Department; and 70% were performed by the mobile surgical team in13 rural outreach camps in Butwal, Nepalgang, Biratnagarr, Pokhara, and Suket. In addition, CMAF donated 50 pounds of medical textbooks to facilitate the education of Nepalese nurses and technicians at Kathmandu Model Hospital who participate in the Corrective Surgery Program.

I've been in Nepal since October 2012, primarily to meet with Dr. Rai and conduct needs assessments with the Corrective Surgery Medical Team. I have also been meeting with Nepal-based NGOs to explore partnerships for mobile eye and dental clinics in rural Nepal; and I am arranging medical tours to go to Nepal in 2013. The medical tours will combine in-the-field volunteer opportunities for medical professionals with an exciting sightseeing itinerary. Proceeds from the tours will benefit CMAF programs. Thank you to all those who have shared our vision and passion for children and families in Nepal. We look forward to many new adventures in the coming year!

Ritima's hand after surgery
Corrective Surgery Team
Corrective Surgery Team
Little Sangha recuperating from surgery
Little Sangha recuperating from surgery



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Project Leader

Carol Vernal

Sonoma, CA United States

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Map of Heal children's lives with corrective surgery