HARBEL, Margibi â€“ Children Surgery International, a Minnesota-based non-profit volunteer organization that provides specialized medical and surgical services for underprivileged children around the world, has ended its ninth visit to Liberia and eighth free surgical mission at the Firestone-run Du-side Medical Hospital.
In November last year, Firestone announced that it has begun screening children living with deformities in Liberia and countries adjacent for free surgeries to correct craniofacial, urologic, and other pediatric medical conditions.
The CSI team arrived in the country in January and conducted 91 free surgeries, which included cranial facial, complex urological, and a variety of other deformities. Prior to the operations, the team â€“ along with medical staff from Firestone â€“ also dewormed approximately 3,500 children in many communities surrounding Firestone.
In January 2008, CSI visited Liberia for two weeks and provided basic medical care to over 200 residents, performing 60 surgeries and numerous lectures to local medical students. The charity group has continued to visit the country since it began a partnership with Firestone in 2010, with the companyâ€™s hospital being used as the venue for their mission.
Due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in 2014, the mission canceled its regular visit to the country until 2017 when it conducted surgeries on more than 60 Liberian children at the Du-Side Hospital.
Speaking at a special farewell program organized by Firestone in honor of the team at the end of its recent mission, Health Minister, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah commended the CSI and the Firestone medical team for their efforts in helping children and their families in Liberia.
For her part, CSI Board member and Lead Head of the mission, Lora Stage Koppel lauded the management of Firestone and its medical team and support staff for the hard work during the mission.
â€œYou all make us feel welcome at the Firestone Medical Center,â€ Koppel said.
At the same time, Firestoneâ€™s vice president for administration, Don Darden, said the company was proud for the continued partnership with the medical charity to provide lifesaving and life-changing surgeries to Liberian children.
â€œThe impact these surgeries have on the children, family, and people of Liberia is simply immeasurable,â€ Darden noted.
In a press release, Firestone also described the annual free surgical operations as â€œBridgestoneâ€™s global corporate social responsibility commitment,â€ referencing the parent company. The rubber plantation assured Liberian children and parents of another free operation next year.
According to the company, the number of children screened for surgical operations was more than the number the mission was able to cater to this year.
Kebeh Masser, a mother in her mid-30s, said though her son was earlier screened and taken to the facility by the company, he did go through the operation until the close of the mission.
â€œI put in a lot of time just to ensure that my son undergoes the surgery. As a single mother, I just canâ€™t afford to underwrite his operation,â€ Masser said.
Featured photo courtesy of Children Surgery International