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 Children  Nepal Project #17477

Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal

by American Himalayan Foundation
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Surgery for Children with Disabilities in Nepal
Siblings Amit and Ajita before treatment
Siblings Amit and Ajita before treatment

A couple, farmers from the Far West in Nepal, felt blessed when they gave birth to a healthy baby boy. But as their son, Amit, grew, both of his feet bent inward with clubfoot. A year later, they had a daughter named Ajita. Unfortunately, they soon realized she had the same condition as her brother.

In Nepal, it is commonly believed that a person’s karma (sum of good and bad deeds) from past lives contributes to their current fortunes and misfortunes. After giving birth to two children with bilateral clubfoot, the couple felt cursed. The family also faced stigma in their community, from neighbors who believed their children’s disabilities were their fault for previous misdeeds.

As they got older, it became difficult for Amit and Ajita to walk and do their daily activities. But their family is poor and could not afford treatment. Eventually they came to accept the condition as their destiny – until the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children (HRDC) came into their lives.

The family went to a screening camp held nearby by HRDC, and the siblings were referred to the main HRDC hospital just outside Kathmandu for treatment – an opportunity that changed their fate forever.

At HRDC, they were treated with skill and compassion. After four months of surgery, recovery, and physical therapy, Amit and Ajita could walk – and even run – easily and without pain. The “curse” was broken, it was like a dream come true.

Now back home in the Far West, the siblings will receive regular follow up visits from a local health worker to help with their physical therapy exercises and make sure there are not any complications. Their family is so grateful to HRDC for treating both the physical disability caused by clubfoot and helping to heal the emotional pain of being shunned by their community.

HRDC’s philosophy is based on the idea of treating the whole child, addressing emotional and social suffering alongside the physical. They work with patients, their families, and community leaders to make spaces more accessible, raise awareness about disabilities, and try to end exclusion and discrimination.

Through their nationwide network, health camps, and special events HRDC is reaching more communities and children in need every year. Regardless of caste, ethnicity, or their family’s financial situation, every child who comes to HRDC is treated equally – and they leave happier and healthier. This life-changing work is only possible because of your help.

Thank you for helping Nepal’s most disadvantaged children feel the joy of learning to walk, being able to go to school, and seeing a future full of new possibilities. We are very grateful to you for opening up your heart to these kids in need. 

  

Amit and Ajita standing tall after their treatment
Amit and Ajita standing tall after their treatment

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Sita beaming as she walks into a brighter future.
Sita beaming as she walks into a brighter future.

One of my earliest, but still very vivid, memories of my work with AHF is meeting a seven-year-old girl named Sita. She was disabled — one leg was half the length of the other. She had spent her life hobbling about, being teased, and her disability was becoming a source of shame.

Fortunately, there was a place she could get help — the Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children, or HRDC as we know it. HRDC’s founder and one of the world’s most compassionate and dedicated orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Ashok Banskota, diagnosed Sita with proximal femoral focal deficiency. Basically, she had no right thigh bone. Nothing could be done to change her leg, but something could be done to change her life.

The same day of the examination, Sita was measured for a prosthetic leg. It was made in HRDC’s own workshop, and a week later the technicians helped her fit it. Minutes later, with some initial support from parallel bars, Sita was walking upright and beaming. An hour later she walked herself out of the hospital, declaring it to be her best day ever! Up until then, I never noticed how tall she was.

Very few cases have solutions as swift as Sita’s. Many of the patients need extensive surgery. But Dr. Banskota, who has been joined by his equally dedicated son, Dr. Bibek Banskota, together with their team of doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, teachers and cooks, give the same skilled and tender care to every child, regardless of the family’s financial situation.

HRDC heals minds as well as bodies. There is a nation-wide network of rehab specialists who not only help with Physical Therapy once a child is back home, but also work with communities to end discrimination and exclusion. And in their spare time they fit growing kids with new orthotic and prosthetic devices and look out for other children needing care.

The Drs. Banskota have built a hospital where love (and a lot of skill) really does cure pain — both the physical and the pain of being shunned because of an injury or disability. And they and their team are ready, with your help, to transform the lives of another 94,000 children.

Dr. Banskota and his son Dr. Bibek Banskota
Dr. Banskota and his son Dr. Bibek Banskota

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In Nepal, a country with more vertical terrain than roads, The Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children's (HRDC) five satellite clinics are a huge step forward in reaching children in ever more remote communities. Now, about half of all patient screenings and 10% of surgeries are done in the field. The clinics also help with early assessment of injuries and do casting and physical therapy. All of this puts HRDC within reach of more children in need.

But the hospital’s reputation as the best place for care for children with breaks, burns and twisted limbs has increased the already steady stream of new patients. Even with the clinics, the hospital often runs at 100% capacity, and the wait times can grow for suffering youngsters. So Dr. Bibek has been shepherding a much-needed expansion.

The construction of both a new patient ward and operating theater are finished, and we saw them on a recent visit. The ward was light and airy, every bed already full of kids whose lives were being transformed so they can walk, play and go to school. So many small miracles.

HRDC is special; I have never seen a hospital full of children that is also so full of joy. The Drs. Banskota and their skillful and compassionate team have healed more than 93,000 children who had nowhere else to turn. Think of it — 93,000 young lives brought back to health and happiness.

And your generosity is the engine that makes all of this possible.

Thank you!

 

Norbu Tenzing

Vice President

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We first met Suraj in April when he was hobbling down a ramp at HRDC with help from a bamboo walker and his grandmother, Maya. He was struggling but looked fiercely determined. Maya told us this was the first time her nine-year-old grandson had ever walked.

Suraj was born with painfully twisted club feet, and as he grew, he could not walk or even stand. His mother left the family when he was two and his father abandoned him shortly after, leaving him in the care of his grandmother.

“I had to carry Suraj everywhere,” Maya said. “Even though he wanted to go to school, it was too difficult for me to take him. So he mostly sat at home.” For all of Suraj’s childhood, no one understood his disability. And, even if they did, his grandmother couldn’t have afforded the treatment for it. She works as a farmhand for just four dollars a day.

Then his life changed. Two years ago, a medical camp visited their village, saw Suraj, and referred him to HRDC. There, a series of operations on both of his feet finally made it possible for the young boy to walk. But he still had to learn how.

So, Suraj has spent the last few months at the hospital in intensive physical therapy; he had special shoes fabricated for him, then grabbed hold of the walker and just went for it. “He is tireless,” said Ganga, the head of PT. “Using the walker, or on the parallel bars, he doesn’t want to stop trying to walk. He gets this look on his face, purses his lips, and off he goes.”

“I love HRDC,” Suraj said. “The doctors and nurses care a lot about me, and I’ve made friends with a lot of other patients. I even started to go to school in the classroom here. When I go back to my village, I will be able to go to school for the first time. I really want to study, and I now hope to be a doctor when I grow up, like the doctors I meet here.”

With your help, Suraj’s dream came true and his grandmother’s prayers were answered. HRDC transformed Suraj’s life, and he is not alone. Dr. Banskota and his team find children whose bodies are broken, ease their pain, fix their bones, and give them a new life. 90,000 children healed and counting. And it can happen because of you.

Suraj learning to walk!
Suraj learning to walk!

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Kapila is all smiles.
Kapila is all smiles.

The doctor’s diagnosis was grim for six-year-old Kapila: her mother, Shanta, was told that she suffered from a hereditary condition and would probably not live past age 20. Broken-hearted, her family stopped seeking further diagnosis for Kapila, and the young girl stopped going to school. By age 12, she had lost the ability to walk entirely, leaving her to use her hands to slide on the floor to get around. However, Kapila was not the only one with a physical disability in her village. A glimmer of hope arrived when a woman whose child was treated by HRDC for clubfoot told Shanta about the hospital. Soon Shanta and Kapila were on a two-day journey to Banepa, just on the outskirts of Kathmandu, where HRDC is located.

“The original diagnosis was that she probably had muscular dystrophy, but I doubted that,” her doctor explained. “MD is unusual in girls, only about one in 50 million, and there were no symptoms in her upper body. Her mother told us she was sick with fever before the onset of her muscle problems, so we are thinking they were caused by polio.”

In the four months she has been at HRDC, Kapila has undergone two major operations to release the contractures in her hamstrings, then spent two months in skeletal traction before being treated with a month-long series of casts to stretch out her knees. After that, they can start work on her feet. Based on similar cases at HRDC, her doctor expects her to be able to walk with some support in about three more months, once her treatment is completed.

Despite a very difficult life, Kapila is always in high spirits. “She is always smiling and talks to everyone here,” the mother of another patient in a nearby bed said. “Everyone is her friend!”

“The doctors and nurses here are very loving,” Kapila says. “I have made so many new friends here too!”

It is thanks to your support and commitment that Kapila can receive treatment from HRDC, the premier pediatric orthopedic hospital in Nepal. Led by Dr. Ashok Banskota and his son, Dr. Bibek Banskota, they have given more than 80,000 children futures full of hope and possibility. Thank you for making this happen.

The skeletal traction that realigned her legs.
The skeletal traction that realigned her legs.
One of the casts she was in for a month.
One of the casts she was in for a month.

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Organization Information

American Himalayan Foundation

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Sarah Bakker
San Francisco, CA United States

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