Vasila, Afghani Girl with Heart Defect, to Get Treatment Through NYU's Project Kids Worldwide, but Many More Still Need Help

March 11, 2005 (All day)

Immediate Press Contact:
Pam McDonnell
Director, Media Relations
NYU Medical Center
212-404-3525
Email: Pamela.mcdonnell@nyumc.org

Robin Weiner Renteria
Executive Director
Project Kids Worldwide
212-263-8141

NEW YORK, March 11, 2005-Vasila, an 11-year-old Afghani girl, has a beaming smile, a bold singing voice, five brothers and sisters, a house they and their parents share with six other families and, between the 20 children who live there, one toy: a little plastic doll without arms or legs. Vasila also has a congenital heart defect that could take her life if it is not treated within six months. Now, thanks to an anonymous donation to "Vasila's Heart"-a new fund at Project Kids Worldwide-she has something else as well: hope.

"Vasila's Heart" will soon bring Vasila-whose story was first reported by documentary filmmaker Stacia Teele and featured on ABC's Nightline recently-to NYU Medical Center to treat her Patent Ductus Arteriosus, a congenital heart defect that allows unoxygenated blood to circulate through her body. But Vasila-whom Teele discovered while making her film, Back to Afghanistan, directed by Ed Robbins-will leave behind countless other Afghani children whose diseased yet treatable hearts await only the generosity needed to bring them here to join her.

"It's a tragedy when any child must cope with a potentially fatal heart defect. But it would be even more tragic to lose a child to a condition that would be completely treatable-if only the resources were available," Stephen B. Colvin, M.D., Chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at NYU Medical Center and the co-founder of Project Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that helps provide surgery and other medical care to impoverished children suffering from heart defects. "The response to Nightline's story about Vasila was overwhelming. It has enabled us to care for Vasila, and it has also gone a very long way toward meeting the needs of other Afghani children. But we have a long distance yet to go. Between diagnostic tests, surgery, medication, travel and other expenses, we have to raise around $35,000 to care for a child like Vasila. Multiply that by the many children in Afghanistan who need help, and the costs we face are immense. But the costs pale in comparison to these children's needs. These children don't have a moment to wait. They need our help right now."

Vasila's Heart Fund will provide treatment for children like Vasila as well as training and equipment to improve cardiac medical care in Afghanistan. Tax-deductible donations to Vasila's Heart Fund can be sent to:

Project Kids Worldwide Inc.
530 First Avenue, Suite 9Z
New York, NY 10016

Specify "Vasila's Fund" in the memo line of the check. Credit card donations can be made by calling (212)263-8141 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Project Kids Worldwide is a New York based non-profit organization that is tax exempt under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax ID 13-4163222. All donations are tax deductible. All donors will receive a receipt by mail confirming their donation. Donations made in honor or memory of or in tribute to a person or family will be acknowledged both to the donor and to the honoree or family. For more information, visit Project Kids Worldwide on the web at www.projectkidsworldwide.org.

###