Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Fresh Start Surgical Gifts will continue accepting applications from potential patients under age 17 seeking surgery. But, since most of the surgeries they facilitate are typically elective, the procedures will be delayed.
The goal of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, a nonprofit based in Carlsbad, is to provide surgeries for children with deformities.
“We cover the world,” said Shari Brasher, the organization’s CEO and executive director. “There’s a lot of times if we get applications from people that are coming from other places it’s a process that takes quite a while to get them to even be able to come over, especially in these times.”
She added that everyone who had been scheduled for surgery in May has been moved to July. After receiving applications, Fresh Start begins the process working on visas for patients coming from other countries, completing the necessary paperwork and other steps.
“This just helps us to get ahead of the curve,” said Brasher, who started with Fresh Start Surgical Gifts almost 30 years ago as a volunteer.
Fresh Start helps provide surgery for disadvantaged infants, children and teens who have physical deformities caused by birth, accidents, abuse or disease, according to its website. It serves about 400 children each year, and has served nearly 8,000 children over the last 20 years.
Many of the patients it serves are uninsured. Patients receive surgeries for conditions such as microtia, in which the ear is underdeveloped and can cause hearing loss and complications developing speech.
Other conditions include scar revisions, otoplasty, tongue reduction, gynecomastia and facial hypoplasia procedures. Even if they went through private insurance, many elective procedures would be delayed due to the current public health guidelines.
“If the patients are coming from out of town or another state or another country, obviously flying is going to be delayed as well,” Brasher said. “So it’s really just a delay, but there’s no difference in the hope that we’re able to provide for these kids.”
Fresh Start also held its annual Celebrity Golf Classic tournament at Morgan Run Club & Resort in early March, days before public health orders due to the novel coronavirus caused the cancelations of virtually all in-person gatherings across the country. The event raised $234,480. The money will be able to provide surgeries for several patients.
Fresh Start Surgical Gifts is located at 2011 Palomar Airport Rd. in Carlsbad. For more information, visit freshstart.org.