Oftentimes, kids don’t want to appear too different from their peers for fear of being singled out as “uncool” or bringing unwanted attention to themselves. Two teenagers who arrived in the United States with conditions that severely affected their physical capabilities returned home recently as changed teens, and looking a lot more like their friends, thanks to LewisGale Regional Health System and the charitable care it provided.

Kethia Sirena is a 14-year-old from Haiti who was burned over 30 percent of her body after falling into a cooking fire at age three. Scar tissue caused her right arm to fuse to her torso making it unusable. And 18-year-old Anderson Mambwe faced certain amputation of both feet if he remained untreated in his native Zambia. He had a congenital birth defect that made walking extremely painful.

Community came together

With help from several community groups, both teens traveled to southwest Virginia to receive surgeries – provided at no cost by LewisGale Health System – to correct their conditions.

Kethia underwent a special surgery at LewisGale Hospital Montgomery to repair her arm, torso and shoulder. Physicians participating in her care included Drs. David Berry, James Farmer, Philip Grubbs and Brian Torre. After intensive physical therapy, Kethia returned to Haiti a changed teen, both in terms of her physical appearance and her arm’s functionality, as well as her outlook on life.Kethia 5

Anderson, meanwhile, underwent two surgeries at LewisGale Medical Center and stayed in the country for nine months. His surgeries were valued at $100,000. Foot and ankle surgeon Charles Zelen operated on Anderson. As a result of the surgeries and follow-up treatment his shoe size went from a size 17EEEEEE to 14E. For the first time in his life he fit into a pair of shoes, and received his first pair of sneakers from Dr. Zelen. Most importantly, he can now walk without the crippling pain he previously experienced.

“Whether it’s in southwest Virginia or in special cases around the world, LewisGale Regional Health System is committed to delivering quality, compassionate care that results in positive patient outcomes,” said Victor Giovanetti, President. “Our committed, experienced medical staff has changed Kethia and Anderson’s lives for the better.”