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A Mother's Hope For Her Son

Mateo was one of nearly 17,000 people who receive a severe burn every year in Zambia, a country with one reconstructive plastic surgeon and 12.6 million people. When he was just five years old, Mateo tripped and fell into an open cooking fire. His mother and father—both farmers—were working in their fields on the farm that barely sustains their large family. For two years after the accident, Mateo received no treatment; his family simply couldn’t afford it.

Mateo was unable to move his neck or hand, as the burn wounds had contracted and permanently fused his head to his neck and his fingers together. So when his mother heard about free surgery offered by Dr. Goran Jovic, Zambia’s only plastic surgeon and ReSurge International’s surgical outreach director, she made the agonizing decision to take Mateo to the city, leaving her other nine children at home. Although it was difficult to leave the others, especially at harvest time, Mateo’s mother knew it was an opportunity she could not pass up for her son, perhaps his only chance to have a normal life.

Dr. Jovic restored Mateo’s neck and hand movement—and he now goes to school for the first time. He has hopes of becoming an accountant.

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