I hope this newsletter arrives at the end of what has been a wonderful summer for each of you, and I can share with you the news that it’s been a very busy and important summer for the WorldCF.
The foundation has been able to expand its reach and the help it offers to children in great need in a number of important ways. We are undertaking exciting new programs and initiatives and re-doubling our work in transforming children’s faces and renewing their lives.
And it’s my great pleasure to announce that Dr. Diego Steinberg, a former WorldCF fellow who studied with me in Dallas a decade ago and who currently serves as one of the foundation’s medical directors, has accepted our invitation to become the WorldCF’s first medical administrator, a new position in which he assumes leadership of our extraordinary group of medical directors, on that will allow him to assume more and more of the patient triage and care management that I continue to focus on daily.
Dr. Steinberg, who lives and works as a craniofacial surgeon in his home city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a gifted physician and great guy, and it’s my hope that, with his efforts, our work helping indigent children in every corner of the world will thrive for decades to come. As gratifying as it has been for me to found and lead this organization for more than a quarter-century, it’s even more rewarding to imagine the foundation thriving far into the future because of the dedication of people like Diego Steinberg.
You’ll read here as well about the foundation’s long relationship with the Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation and its remarkable president, Eileen Tye, widow of the late Ray Tye, whose commitment to helping WorldCF children was always tremendous. Mrs. Tye is a truly remarkable person as well, and under her leadership the Tye foundation has pledged critically important assistance toward meeting the huge costs of surgery and post-surgical care for dear little Freshta Ruth, the Afghani orphan whose surgery was performed by a WorldCF team at Wake Forest in North Carolina last week. I ask for your very generous donations to help this dear little one who has a long road ahead of her.
You’ll read as well here about wonderful children from China, Nigeria, and Tajikistan, who are actively under the care of WorldCF-affiliated teams of dedicated medical professionals solely because of the generosity of people like you. As the foundation grows and expands it reach, and as its staff, board of directors, and medical directors renew their commitments to children whose lives literally depend on their help, I believe there has never been a more important moment in the WorldCF’s history.
As the seasons change and summer draws to a close, please do everything you can to help. This is a challenging time for the foundation and, with your profoundly important assistance, it can be an extraordinarily rewarding moment for all of us as well. With your very generous gift, and with future gifts, you can transform a child’s face and renew her life as well. What greater gift could you offer someone in great need—and what better gift to yourself as well?
Thank you, and may God bless you, Dr. Ken Salyer
Chinese Orphan Wei Er Is Moving to the U.S.
Wei Er Is Adopted by American Parents & Will Have Surgery in Seattle
In our Spring newsletter, we shared the story of a wonderful little Chinese girl who was abandoned soon after birth and who currently lives at the remarkable Dew Drops Little Flower orphanage in Beijing, which cares for children with medical challenges. It was clear as soon as Wei Er was admitted to her new home that she faced an uphill climb if she was going to survive because of a significant tumor that was spreading across the left side of her face and neck.
We’re delighted to share the news that although Wei Er has been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and will likely need many surgeries as she grows, she is in the process of being adopted by an extraordinary family in Atlanta. Both the Chinese and U.S. governments have given the adoption initial approval, and Wei Er will travel with her new parents to Seattle sometime this fall for a lifesaving operation during which craniofacial surgeons will remove a tumor in her face and neck that is growing rapidly and is pressing on her left carotid artery and affecting her trachea and ability to swallow as well. It’s a beautiful story—and this is a truly hopeful time for precious little Wei Er.
Dr. Diego Steinberg Named WorldCF Medical Administrator
Dr. Salyer with Dr. Diego Steinberg during his fellowship in 2007.
We are very pleased to share the news that Dr. Diego Steinberg, a former WorldCF fellow and a craniofacial surgeon based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who helped develop the WorldCF center at Austral Hospital, has accepted a position as the foundation’s first medical administrator. Dr. Steinberg will join WorldCF founder and board chairman Dr. Kenneth Salyer in overseeing the admission of new patients, planning their surgeries and additional treatments, and leading our education and training efforts at WorldCF-affiliated centers around the world.
“Our current team of medical directors are five world-class surgeons dedicated to excellence and the foundation’s mission to offer good lives to children born with craniofacial challenges,” explains Dr. Salyer. “In his new position, Dr. Steinberg will become their leader and will coordinate the foundation’s medical programs with them. I think the world of Diego and know that he is well-prepared to assume greater responsibilities as I begin to plan for my eventual retirement.”
Dr. Steinberg received his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1995. Following his training in plastic surgery, he was awarded the title of Specialist in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery from the Argentine Ministry of Health. In 2007, he became a WorldCF fellow, working under Dr. Salyer for a year before returning to Buenos Aires, where he continues to practice craniofacial surgery. He has authored more than twenty-five papers that have been presented at international meetings and published in scientific publications in Argentina and abroad. He is an international member of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons and volunteers around the world in consultation with Operation Smile.
WorldCF benefactor Eileen Tye with Egyptian twins Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrahim in 2009, six years after their successful separation surgery.
Eileen Tye’s Passion for Helping Children
The WorldCF has been blessed for many years by the constant support and enormous generosity of the Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation, based in Boston. Established by businessman and philanthropist Ray Tye, who passed away in 2010, the foundation has been led in recent years by his beloved widow, Eileen Tye, who continues her late husband’s boundless desire to help people in need.
Regardless of faith or nationality, the Tyes have always found great joy in giving, whether simply offering a new wheelchair to someone in need or making possible the highly expensive—and remarkably successful—separation surgery of Egyptian twins Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrahim that was undertaken in 2003 by the WorldCF and a team of more than fifty medical professionals led by Dr. Salyer.
And recently, Mrs. Tye and the foundation she now leads have pledged vital funds in support of the surgery for the remarkable little Afghani orphan Freshta Ruth, whose story we have shared with you before.
Freshta (whose adoptive American parents initially planned to re-name Ruth) was born in Afghanistan with a large teratoma (a normally benign tumor with tissue or organ components from multiple germ layers), a cleft lip and palate, the absence of her right eye, and a deformed orbit and right side of her face. As is far too common with enormously challenged children like her, she was abandoned by her family at an orphanage operated by Japanese missionaries in Kabul, the capital of her home country. Her cleft lip and nose were repaired with less than optimal results.
Freshta’s surgery has been necessarily delayed for several months. In cooperation with the WorldCF, Dr. Lisa David and a team near Freshta’s home in North Carolina operated several months ago to seal leakage of fluid from her head. Doctors there also have been working diligently to control recurring seizures likely cause by her teratoma. But Freshta was finally ready in late September for her major, which went extremely well. Dr. David was joined for that many-hour operation by her colleague Dr. Daniel Couture, and they were assisted by the WorldCF’s Dr. Derek Bruce.
Freshta will need many more surgeries and constant care, but with the expertise of our WorldCF team, and with the generosity of people like Mrs. Tye—and you!—this precious little Afghani girl is on her way to leading a normal life in every way. “[Ray] inspired us to follow his lead in our dealings with the people we meet in this journey called life,” writes Mrs. Tye about the extraordinary compassion her late husband had for anyone in need—and for children in particular. “He remains our guiding spirit.”
We ask you to join Mrs. Tye, the Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation, and the WorldCF in our combined efforts to help bring a stable and loving life to this severely disabled child from one of the world’s most war-torn and desperate places. Please help as generously as you can!
Freshta (Ruth) before her recent surgery
Dr. Salyer in Moscow in June, examining Tajikistan patient Maftuna prior to her surgery
Healing Children’s Faces—In Africa, Central Asia & Here at Home
In the months since we were last in touch, the WorldCF’s staff, board of directors, and the outstanding health professionals around the world to whom we offer educational and training support have been focused collectively on finding ever better ways to meet our goal of providing excellent craniofacial care to every child who needs it, regardless of location or financial need.
We are setting in motion four exciting new programs that will help us assist more children around the world and do our work more resourcefully in every way. We look forward to sharing information about those programs with you in our holiday newsletter as well as sharing the stories of individual patients from every part of the world whose lives we are helping to transform.
It’s hugely heart-warming to see orphaned children with enormous challenges—like Wei Er from China and Freshta from Afghanistan—find adoptive homes in the United States and new parents who will dearly love and care for them as they grow up and throughout their lives.
And our work also continues in every season in countries around the world. In June, Dr. Salyer led a WorldCF team on a trip to Moscow where he and WorldCF medical directors Dr. Derek Bruce and Dr. Akira Yamada performed surgery on a six-year-old girl from the Central Asian country of Tajikistan who suffered from a massive facial cleft and a mispositioned (and sightless) left eye. An outgoing and bright girl who dreams of becoming a doctor one day, Maftuna was eager to look more like her best friend and next-door neighbor Shahnaza, and despite many complexities, the many-hour surgery was highly successful.
In June as well, four-year-old Somto traveled with his mother Nancy from their home in Nigeria to Cape Town, South Africa, where Dr. Frank Graewe and his colleagues performed lifesaving surgery on the young sufferer of Crouzon’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusion of skull bones that prevents a child’s head from growing normally and often results in bulging eyes and an array of vision problems caused by shallow eye sockets. In Somto’s case, his airway had become severely constricted as well, and he would almost certainly have died without surgery.
But as this newsletter goes to press, Somto and his mom have returned home to Nigeria, and the external distraction device that was placed on his head during surgery is successfully reshaping the boy’s skull and he is breathing normally now.
These are just two of the many children whose good health and happy futures are the tireless focus of the WorldCF and its friends and affiliates around the world. There are dozens more children like them who receive care only because of your generosity, and, sadly, there are thousands more children who receive no care at all. Our work is aimed at a single goal—assuring that all children everywhere receive the care they need. We strongly believe that every child deserves to grow up with a normal face, and we work diligently toward that end.
But our work depends exclusively on your financial support. We thank you enormously for your past generosity, and we ask you to give again and again—as generously as you possibly can—so we can reach more children in need. We transform children’s faces and we renew their lives. We’re blessed to be able to do this work, but we can only undertake it with your wonderful and very vital support.
Please help us help these precious children! And you’ll be amazed by what your very generous gift does for you as well!
Six-year-old patient Maftuna
Four-year-old patient Somto prior to surgery
Somto immediately following his successful surgery in June