Ethiopian Girl Brought to U.S. for Life-Changing Surgery

by yeEthiopiaforums

When you first glance at Samirawit Hallemariam – it’s almost impossible not to notice the growth protruding from the left side of her face.

But, after spending just a few moments with this spunky 4-year-old, all of that disappears, and instead you see the twinkle in her big brown eyes. What’s more, you see all of the strength she has mustered up in her short life.

Samirawit, or Sami, as her doctors call her, is from a rural village in Ethiopia where little or no medical care is available – an especially dire situation for her because she was born with a venous malformation – a condition, which if left untreated, can be deadly.

Ethiopian-girl-Face Surgery

Fortunately, fate stepped in, and Sami was discovered by chance at a clinic in Israel by Michelle Sorscher, a nurse manager for Dr. Alejandro Berenstein, of the Vascular Birthmarks Institute of New York, who was in Tel Aviv at the time helping other children.

“Michelle came up and she said, ‘You’ve gotta see this kid.’ And we saw this beautiful, beautiful kid that has this significant problem, and we knew immediately what it was,” Berenstein, co-director of the institute and chief of Interventional Radiology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Beth Israel Medical Center, told “Think of a venous malformation as varicose veins in the leg. It’s different, but for you to understand, it’s like imagine varicosities, a collection of blood vessels in the face, they cannot empty the blood so they keep expanding.”

Initially, Sami was brought to Israel on four different occasions for treatment, after she was introduced to Dell J. Russell, the founder of the non-profit organization, International Children’s Outreach Network.

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