Help and hope for children in need
For nearly 20 years, Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF) has been aiding children in need who have lost the use of, or are missing limbs or eyes, have been severely burned, or have been injured due to war, natural disasters or illness. GMRF partners with Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia to help care for these children.
During the summer of 2015, GMRF brought five children with amputations from Tanzania, Africa, to the U.S. for care at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital. Three boys, Baraka, Mwigulu and Emmanuel, and two girls, Pendo and Kabula, were greeted by the GMRF team and GMRF founder, Elissa Montanti, medical technician, when they stepped off the plane. They were seen at Shriners Hospital the next day.
Shriners Hospital staff steps in
The children received prosthetic devices with appropriate supportive therapy and training at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia. Chief of Staff Scott Kozin, M.D., and orthopaedic surgeon Dan Zlotolow, M.D, provided upper extremity care for the children, and occupational therapists and the care team made the children’s prosthetic devices.
“The relationship we’ve developed with Shriners Hospitals over the years is remarkable. We are on the same page for making a difference,” said Montanti. “We give these children a chance to live with dignity. Dr. Kozin is a true humanitarian who exemplifies, with honor, what the Shriners Hospitals organization [health care system] stands for.”
Each child had different needs, such as surgery, prostheses or rehabilitation. For example, Emmanuel, who had received a toe-to-thumb transplant surgery before coming to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, needed a revision to give him more pinch-and-grasp ability. To ease his nerves prior to surgery, he drew a picture for Dr. Kozin while Dr. Kozin was reviewing the pre-operative care instructions.
GMRF will bring the children back to the hospital each year as they grow so that they will receive the necessary follow-up care.
On Saturday, March 25, 2017, four of the children returned to the U.S., including Pendo, Baraka, Mwigulu and Emmanuel. They visited the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital on Monday, March 27, for follow up appointments.
“Elissa is a one-of-a-kind person. She founded a grass-roots organization that has made a profound difference in children’s lives across the globe,” said Dr. Kozin. “GMRF has truly changed lives for the better and rescued children from dire situations.”