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Special Report: Gift of Life

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:17 PM EDT
Her young life has been anything but carefree.

Burns scar her body and restrict the use of her hands, but as News 13's Jay Siltzer explains in this special Health Alert, one mountain community has come together to provide a 3-year-old girl the "Gift of Life."

Though they aren't walking alone, the journey from the Philippines to the United States for 3-year-old Princess Malapitan and her mother, Dina, hasn't been easy physically or emotionally.

Dina Malapitan, Princess' mother, "I blame myself because of what happened, but the people tell me that is not my fault. It was just an accident."

Now in Hendersonville, the mother and daughter have met with plastic surgeon William Overstreet.

He aims through surgery to improve the youngster's hand function and reduce overall scarring from a house fire started by a candle in the child's room in 2011.

Eileen Decarle, RN, BSN, Pardee Surgical Director, "it's taken years to get to this point and get her over here."

Dina, "I hope her face that burned will get its natural look and her hands will function."

A little more waiting is no big deal for the pair, the latest foreign participants in rotary's gift of life program. 

Rotary identified the medical need and Philippine Airlines and Mercy Medical Airlift donated the flights.  Now, Pardee offers the care while a host family provides food and lodging.

Joe Dwyer, Malapitans' host, "it's a blessing for us to open up our home, which is His and be able to use it for His glory, that's the reward."

Rose Dwyer, Malapitans' host, "when you see that the end result, it's worth the time and the sacrifice, to be part of and change course of a child's life."

Eileen, "I think she will have full movement and everything, it's just scar tissue takes a long time to heal."

Harry Lewis, Rotary Club Gift of Life, "I consider it a blessing to be able to help this child to have a new lease on life and become a productive member of society."

The first surgery is just over a week away, with at least one other procedure after that.

Princess and Dina are expected to remain in the mountains until at least August for follow-up care that is expected to include physical therapy.

If you would like to contribute to the Gift of Life program, you can call 828 329-1653.Special Report: Gift of Life

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