SAN DIEGO, CA — Rady Childrens’ Hospital is partnering with a philanthropic nonprofit to donate $600,000 of medical care to 20 children, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Fresh Start Surgical Gifts will also provide dental and orthodontic care, laser treatments and speech therapy to an additional 45 children as part of a “Surgery Weekend” on Sept. 11 and 12.
Based in San Diego County, Fresh Start Surgical Gifts provides comprehensive reconstructive surgery infants, children and teenagers at no cost.
Surgeons and their staffs volunteer their time, while patients and their parents stay with host families, partner hotels or at the Ronald McDonald House.
“Unlike the other medical charities that are out there which go out of country to provide care for kids, Fresh Start is one of the only ones that actually bring patients to the U.S.,” said Dr. Salvatore J. Pacella, a volunteer surgeon at Fresh Start, in a news release. “And the kids stay as long as they need to.”
According to Fresh Start, one child receiving care this Surgery Weekend is 2-year-old Valeria, who was born with Apert Syndrome, a condition that causes craniofacial abnormalities. The condition is defined by an abnormal head shape and fusion of the fingers and toes.
Since May 2019, Valeria has been under the care of two surgeons, and has undergone a pair of cranial surgeries and a syndactyly operation for her fingers and toes. While the procedures would cost nearly a half-million dollars, her family won’t have to worry about a bill.
“Before I learned about Fresh Start, I felt I was drowning because I could not help my daughter,” said Valeria’s mother. “After, I felt like I could breathe again. I am very grateful to God for Fresh Start — we are so blessed.”
Fresh Start has provided almost $52 million in medical care to 8,527 children since its founding in 1991, a spokeswoman said. More information is available at FreshStart.org.