As some of you know, I've been heavily involved with Friends Without A Border, a healthcare non-profit dedicated to building and operating free children's hospitals in Southeast Asia. For the next 7-8 years, their main focus is the Lao Friends Hospital for Children in Luang Prabang, the only children’s hospital in northern Laos. The hospital includes 30+ beds that now treats an average of 100 children a day. The facility includes a surgical suite, a neonatal unit, outpatient services, 24/7 emergency services, a thalassemia clinic, a developmental clinic for disabled children and a community outreach program. My father immigrated from Laos when he was a teenager and I'm forever grateful for readily accessible healthcare in America. Meanwhile in Laos, there are parents who travel at least 7-8 hours one-way to have their children treated because of the remote location. As you can imagine, running a 24/7 hospital in a provincial town for a third-world country is not easy, but we have some of the best medical staff helping the hospital to become efficient, running the hospital at $1.4 million per year. The costs are relatively low compared to other hospitals because money goes far in Laos and we use ex-pat staff and volunteers from the world’s finest medical institutions to not only treat children but to train doctors, nurses and other health care providers. They are also teaching parents how to raise healthier children and protect them from lifelong health problems. These reduced-salary staff and volunteers account for about $2 million worth of free services. With all this in mind, I’m asking for you to consider donating on Giving Tuesday to continue the FWAB’s mission to “treat every patient as your own child.”
Below are some statistics to give you a clearer picture:
• A $25 gift provides Vitamin B1 injections to more than 50 children and their mothers to protect them from contracting beriberi, which can cause heart failure in extreme cases.
• A $50 gift covers the typical expenses for a child’s overnight stay at the hospital.
• A $100 gift covers one day of diagnostic laboratory costs (rapid test kits, test tubes and related supplies) for as many as 20 children.
• A $250 gift allows LFHC’s Outpatient Pharmacy to dispense antibiotics, de-worming treatments and other medications to approximately 150 children.
• A $500 provides Vitamin B1 injections to more than 700 children.
• A $1,000 gift allows us to reach out and provide medical services and preventative education to 75 families living in villages with no access to transportation.
• A $2,500 gift provides breastfeeding and nutrition support for 250 women at our Neonatal Unit.
• A $5,000 gift finances more than 50 life-saving surgeries.
• A $10,000 gift covers the cost of 600-800 outpatients, including prescriptions, or the costs of sponsoring two new nurses for one year, including training.
I also attached a few stories of patients that the hospital has encountered:
• Baby May* is an incredible example of the importance of our outreach work. Our outreach team ﬁrst met May last year, when they noticed a very underweight and malnourished baby while visiting another patient in her village. May was brought to LFHC, where she was examined, provided nutritional supplements, and where she gained her weight and color back each day. In the aftermath of May’s recovery, our outreach team has helped her parents maintain sustainable sources of food on their property. Thanks to LFHC, baby May continued to grow healthy and recently welcomed her first birthday. May’s parents were so grateful. May is their ﬁrst child out of eight to survive beyond infancy. (*Name was changed to protect her privacy.)
• A 10-year-old Khmu girl arrived at the hospital with a respiratory illness that was worsening despite receiving three days of treatment at her district hospital. Both of her lungs had been affected and she hadn’t responded to antibiotics as expected. Beside himself, her father pulled her out of the district hospital and brought her to Friends. By the end of her ﬁrst full day in LFHC, regular oxygen therapy was not enough to maintain her blood oxygen levels. To ﬁx this dilemma, the staff enlisted our volunteer biomedical engineer to devise a way to connect multiple oxygen supplies to the ventilator. He creatively connected two oxygen concentrators to the device using extra tubing, zip ties and a hot glue gun, and connected a third one directly to the mask at the patient’s face. This engineered system was just enough to keep her blood oxygen at an acceptable level. She was given medications to treat infections, remove ﬂuid from her lungs, and reduce inﬂammation. After five tense days, she recovered the ability to breathe on her own and was released to her overjoyed parents.
• The Swiss Red Cross brought not one – but FIVE – tiny babies to our hospital’s emergency room: two sets of twins and a single boy. The smallest weighed only 2.42 pounds and the largest almost 6.6 pounds, each of them with a variety of medical conditions. An unexpected event like this would have stretched any hospital. But we are the only facility in the Northern Province that has a fully-trained neonatal staff and the necessary equipment, so we were completely prepared to handle this type of emergency. In the next few hours, our staff ensured that each baby received excellent medical care with appropriate blood tests and X-Rays, oxygen, intravenous lines, nasogastric tubes, ﬂuids and antibiotics. Jaundice, infections, low blood sugars, and seizures were treated thoroughly over the next few days. The babies showed dramatic improvement, increased their weight and were able to feed well by the end of their stay. Despite the fact that having ﬁve newborns at once was an enormous challenge for the staff, the families of the newborns were incredibly pleased with the compassionate quality care given to all of their children by LFHC.
I hope you’ll consider donating! Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about the organization!