June 29, 2005

Mount Sinai Medical Center Press Release

NEW YORK, NY – June 29, 2005. A Cambodian mother and her infant daughter, who were victims of an acid attack several months ago in Cambodia, today gave thanks to their Mount Sinai Medical Center physicians who saved their lives through several reconstructive surgeries. Mother and daughter Yem and Sophan were horribly burned and disfigured by battery-acid while the baby was breastfeeding. They were brought to Mount Sinai for surgeries to prevent blindness and other deformities. Both underwent several procedures that were followed by three months of rehabilitation. Sophan is now almost one-year old.

The medical costs have been donated by Mount Sinai and the individual doctors led by Ebby Elahi, MD, an ophthalmic and facial plastic surgeon. Other physicians who performed surgeries and attended today’s press conference were Lester Silver, MD, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon; Penny Asbell, MD, an ophthalmologist; Michael Shohet, MD, an otolaryngologist and reconstructive surgeon; and Steven Rosenberg, MD, a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Acid violence is an emerging problem in Cambodia, where battery acid is easily obtainable and inexpensive. It is increasingly a weapon of choice and is used as a means of settling domestic disputes or disagreements. Most victims are women and children. In November 2004, Dr. Elahi, with the support of Virtue Foundation, traveled to Cambodia to perform oculoplastic, orbital, and reconstructive surgery on approximately 30 patients, many of whom were critically injured as a result of acid violence. Dr. Elahi arranged to bring patients to New York who could not be treated in Cambodia.

Also attending today’s event was Cindi Broaddus, sister-in-law of talk show host D. Phil and a victim of an acid attack here in the United States who met with the Cambodian mother to share her experiences.

The primary mission of the Virtue Foundation (www.virtuefoundation.org) is to educate the public regarding today’s most prevalent global issues. It encourages active participation through support of humanitarian endeavors, including medical expeditions and the training of physicians and nurses who are committed to returning to their underprivileged communities. To date, Virtue Foundation has sponsored medical expeditions to Cambodia, Tonga, and Southern India and is planning a mission to Uganda.

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