Dr. Jorge Rojas-Zegers knows firsthand how often children are injured by burns, and how debilitating it can be.
In Northwest Argentina – where he is training a medical team to care for burn victims – 8,000 children suffer from burn injuries every year. In Chile – where his program, COANIQUEM, is located – 80,000 children suffer from burn injuries every year. 70 percent of these children are under the age of five. These children especially require long-term treatment and care since scar tissue does not grow like normal skin.
Unfortunately, most families cannot afford this long and expensive treatment, leaving young burn victims to carry physical and psychological injuries for the rest of their lives.
This is the reality that Dr. Jorge Rojas-Zegers discovered 30 years ago when he met a young patient with a severe burn injury. To heal, the girl needed expensive long-term care; however, she came from a poor family. His colleagues told him that there was “no hope for someone like her.”
“I decided I wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer, and set out instead to find a way to treat this child no matter what it would take,” Dr. Rojas-Zegers wrote.
He knew it would be a long, hard process; for young children, rehabilitation can take up to 15 years. But in the end, he was able to successfully treat this young girl.
This experience inspired Dr. Rojas-Zegers to start COANIQUEM, an organization that provides free, comprehensive rehabilitation for young burn victims. Today, COANIQUEM has treated over 100,000 children across South America and the Caribbean. The organization also runs year-round burn prevention campaigns and trains other healthcare professionals to treat burn victims.
“Helping burned children changed my life forever and for the better,” Dr. Rojas-Zegers said. “If you’re curious and would like to make a difference, please join us because I promise, it will change your life as well.”
On April 19, we will honor Dr. Rojas-Zegers’ extraordinary work with our 2017 World of Children Alumni Award. Celebrate with us in Los Angeles >>