Interplast & Medical Tourism …Giving One Child, A Chance in Nepal

Last Updated on August 25, 2017 by Christine Kaaloa

The gift of giving and saving lives doesn’t always need to be monetary or achieved through great acts. Sometimes, it just takes “a thought” or “the smallest effort of creating time” out of your crazy life to let another person be of concern to you.

Today I received an email from Theo, a French expat who’s made his home in Kathmandu and whom I met during my time in Chobhar Village, Nepal. Theo is a philanthropist responsible for a handful of humanitarian efforts that’s aided villagers towards health, better living conditions and financial recovery.

Today, Theo was asking for advice/ideas for a specific concern and one child in particular. I will cut & paste a bit of Theo’s letter:

“This boy’s name is Sanish, aged 15. He is the son of Sanu, who has worked for me for almost 8 years. She is a wonderful mother, of three, including this boy who is the eldest. Sanu is divorced and besides getting a salary from me, has her three children sponsored in private schools by foreign people. When (Sanish) was a 6 months’ old baby, a kerosene lamp next to his bed, fell over in a freak accident…and in a matter of minutes, his whole bed and part of the bedroom was on fire. As a result, Baby Sanish had half of his body, on the left, badly burned. The worst part is that in this horrible mishap, he lost four fingers and only has a thumb left, on that left hand.

About five years ago, I paid for him to have an operation in Banepa, which is about one hour from Kathmandu. At that time he was operated on, but the result was less than successful. Therefore, today, the boy is definitely handicapped, and I am concerned because here in Nepal, when someone has a physical handicap it may mean that it may make him ineligible for marriage. Here tradition is harsh on anyone who is physically handicapped. I repeat, here, the culture and tradition is harsh on cases like this.

From my perspective, money by itself will not help, at least here in Nepal where clearly they do not the medical expertise to deal with something like this. As I see it, I think that the boy may have to go to the US and have his trip, examination, operation, etc….fully underwritten by an organization willing to do it. I mention the USA, in preference to any other country, because I am sure that the Americans have a huge amount of experience in this field. With all those veterans who are coming back to the US without a leg, or an arm, etc……”

I, know nothing about this area.

Theo wasn’t asking for donations, but information and ideas of organizations that might offer free service and aid to burn victims… To ask me for this kind of advice, felt like scraping an empty barrel of an even emptier gun.

“Life gives you, what you’re prepared to tackle”…

If this is true, then the fact Theo came to me had to mean in some quantum dimension of miracles, I possessed the answer.

Or I hoped.

I spoke to my roommate about this problem. She had some knowledge about non-profit organizations.

My roommate offered me three Google words in a search and it miraculously call up Interplast, a non-profit org that provides free surgery to burn victims in  developing countries, such as Nepal, India, Zambia, etc….  The organization understands the scarring stigma that the handicapped, burned & disfigured children face in being ostracized from their community… sometimes even their families. Even better, they had a center in Kathmandu!

Sanish wouldn’t have to go more than a stone’s throw away from home for this!

I emailed this discovery to Theo.

Wouldn’t Western doctors have better ability and leading technology?

That was Theo’s response to me.

He didn’t feel that Nepal had adequate faciliites and that Sanish was still better off receiving treatment in the U.S.

But where would the money come from?  Really.

The cost of that kind of procedure in the U.S. and additionally, the cost of hotel and flights would equate a skyrocketing price that Sanish and his family wouldn’t be able to afford in a lifetime and no donor would arrive in the speed required.  I certainly wouldn’t be able to fund such a venture.

Why not use the resources at hand and see?

Medical tourism outside of the U.S. is becoming increasingly popular. Countries such as India, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, etc.. are starting to see growing interest from the west, due to its lower costs. The costs, depending on procedure can be sliced to 1/3 or a half.  Also, considering western medicine’s reach, the U.S. doesn’t have as much experience in certain procedures that other countries experience high volumes in (i.e. burns, cleft lips, cosmetic surgery, reproductive/fertility issues, surrogacy, etc…). Other times, Western doctors in the might misdiagnose diseases (such as HIV, TB or typhoid) due to its rarity in the U.S.

Knowing that there is an non-profit organization like INTERPLAST, offering a life-saving solution for child and family in need is a relief.

If you’re reading this blog, please pray for Sanish and his family and hope this returns good news!


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