I hope you will support MOi’s mission of creating truly sustainable programs that provide the opportunity for individuals to improve their mobility and become productive members of their communities. With your support -- through a donation, or making a fundraising page and spreading the word -- you will ensure that the positive impact MOi programs have on individuals around the world continues.
Let me share with you the story of Quan, a young Vietnamese man whose life holds endless possibilities after having received treatment from MOi.
On their family farm in the hills of northern Vietnam, the parents of Quan Bien were concerned for their son’s future. Born with severe bilateral clubfoot that had not been treated, their concern was well-founded. Infants with clubfoot can be successfully treated non-surgically with a series of casts followed by a brace (the Ponseti method), but children with untreated clubfoot – known as “neglected” clubfoot – must walk on the outer edges of their feet, leading to a lifetime of pain and severely limited mobility.
Mobility Outreach International (MOi), a Seattle-based nonprofit that my husband Wally and I actively support, helps physically disabled individuals in under-resourced areas of the world to improve their lives. I worked for seven years as Director of Physical Therapy at Prosthetics Research Study for Dr. Ernest M. Burgess, the founder of MOi (formerly “Prosthetics Outreach Foundation”), and have served on its Board for over 20 years. Fortunately for Quan, orthopedic surgical outreach to adults and children is among the extraordinary work being done by MOi and its orthopedic surgical outreach team in countries such as Vietnam.
Quan was 18 years old when he arrived at Son La Provincial Hospital in 2007, hoping to meet the visiting surgeons who were there conducting the annual MOi foot clinic. When a shy and seemingly embarrassed Quan finally approached them about having the surgery, he told Seattle-based surgeons Dr. Robert Veith and Dr. Mark Dales that his education was limited and his prospects in life were extremely bleak. He felt that his whole life was being held back by his disability.
Determined that Quan would have a better quality of life, the surgical team operated first on his right foot, and his left the following year. Recovery from each surgery was slow, and with the help of several months of physical therapy, the end result has been phenomenal. Last November, an MOi team visited Quan at his workplace, and since his initial corrective surgeries 10 years ago, Quan has finished trade school and is now an automobile mechanic. He married last April, and he and his wife had their first child -- a son -- this past May (see photos).
In addition to surgical outreach, MOi’s global programs also provide prosthetic and orthotic services, physical rehabilitation, advocacy, and non-surgical treatment to children with clubfoot. In keeping with its sustainability model (which transitions mature programs to local hospitals and governments), MOi also offers training and support for the local manufacture of prosthetics, as well as training in Ponsetti method procedures for local physicians and clinicians.
The results of this sustainable approach have been overwhelming. Mary Luft Gladhart, who as interim executive director led the MOi group during an in-country visit to Vietnam last fall, reported that for the first time in ten years, the MOi team did not encounter any neglected clubfoot cases!
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