Dr. Rasha Morsi Shares Story of Daughter Myrna’s Valiant Fight Against ITP, Inspiration Behind Naming Opportunity and BloodFeud Game

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Myrna MorsiECN had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Rasha Morsi, an associate professor at the Center for Gaming Simulation at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. She had originally contacted ECN in an attempt to pursue a naming opportunity at Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE). As we learned more about her background and intention in pursuing the naming opportunity, we discovered that Dr. Morsi and her family have a very special story to tell, one that is worthy of sharing with all.

Dr. Morsi is Egyptian-born, UK-raised, with a specialty in electrical engineering. Her young daughter, Myrna, was diagnosed with multiple ventricular septal defect (VSD) at the tender age of 8 months. Myrna’s case was particularly severe, as she had several holes in her small heart. She underwent multiple surgeries at just under 1 year of age to attempt to close the gaping holes that threatened her life, just barely surviving her surgeries.

By the time she was 5 years old, and now with a healthy heart, young Myrna had a fall that alarmed her family. They took her to the hospital only to discover that, she had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a blood condition in which the immune system destroys blood platelets. Platelets are necessary for normal blood clotting to take place.

In order to combat this, Myrna was put on intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) treatments until her body became immune in its response. She was then placed temporarily on a newer ITP medicine (Rituximab) used only for adults at the time, seeing overall improvement but still with limited immunity. She continues to receive IVIG infusions on a monthly basis.

Myrna’s experience with her conditions emboldened her, heavily influencing her priorities and goals from a very young age. Motivated by her interest in helping to raise awareness about these issues, Myrna began participating in many school fundraising competitions run by the American Heart Association (AHA). Myrna has raised over $2,000 for AHA thus far, and her younger brother, Kareem, has separately raised $1,300.

Both ECN and its partner, Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE), feature extensive advertising campaigns on Arabic TV channels throughout the world. Dr. Morsi had heard about ECN through such an advertisement and, when mentioning it to her father, she discovered that he had already made a donation to CCHE. Dr. Morsi is consistently careful and deliberate in choosing which organization is deserving of her zakat elmal donations, made annually during the holy month of Ramadan. After seeing one of ECN’s advertisements, she was determined to put her zakat towards ECN’s mission and causes.

She mentioned this to her children, who had seen her working on her donation for a naming opportunity. Dr. Morsi wanted to help children in her native country, based on her background with Myrna and her respective illnesses. Both her children noticed that she was working diligently on the application and promptly decided to contribute. Dr. Morsi and her family now have completed a naming opportunity request for a Waiting Room in the new expansion of CCHE, made in light of Myrna and her family’s experience.

Also notable is that Dr. Morsi, in her professional capacity, focuses on game design and development for her research initiatives. In this field Dr. Morsi has been responsible for developing a myriad of interactive training tools, games and simulations for educational games, including winning a $4 million grant to develop a 3d nurse training program. Because of Myrna’s condition, Dr. Morsi spent much of her times in various medical clinics amongst many sick children who she felt didn’t understand what was happening to them. She was therefore inspired to figure out an enjoyable way to educate these children on the processes occurring in their bodies.

Eventually Dr. Morsi found a niche which she thought she could further develop, inspired by Myrna’s condition and her work on the aforementioned health training tool. In collaboration with her students, Dr. Morsi developed a game called Bloodfeud, an educational game based on informing youth about several of the most common diseases that children suffer from: leukemia, sickle cell anemia and ITP, respectively. Dr. Morsi and her team worked with Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, VA in developing the medical details for the game.

The key for Dr. Morsi in developing this game is that the game is played to accurately depict how the medicine works in the body. Each player has a choice to see how the medicine deals with the illness they choose to combat. This could be especially helpful, Dr. Morsi explained, in helping children who are noncompliant with taking their mediation by encouraging them to do the contrary in thoroughly understanding how taking their medicine benefits them.

Bloodfeud is available for free download for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bloodfeud/id568162520?mt=8. It may soon be available on Android also.Bloodfeud Logo

ECN is most grateful to Dr. Morsi and her family for their generous donation to a naming opportunity at CCHE, which will offer the hope for a cure and the gift of recovery to many children in Egypt. Patients will undoubtedly be inspired by the commitment of Myrna, Kareem and their parents to fighting disease and spreading awareness and understanding.

For the third consecutive year, ECN’s major partner, Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE), under the auspices of the Canadian Embassy in Egypt, has organized a fundraising marathon to promote cancer research in the name of Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete who fought cancer. The Terry Fox Marathon, which took place on the American University in Cairo campus on November 17th, is a 4km run and proceeds from the event are used to fund cancer research initiatives at CCHE.

Mr. Terry Fox, the inspiration behind the event, became a celebrated character in the fight against cancer when he participated in the Marathon of Hope, a marathon which took its participants across Canada. Mr. Fox completed the marathon with the aid of an artificial leg. He eventually succumbed to cancer at the young age of 22, after running 3,339 miles over 14 days. Canadians have since maintained his legacy with pride and admiration, celebrating him as a national hero on the annual occasion of the Terry Fox Run in Canada.

The miniature replica of the Canadian Terry Fox Run by CCHE was supported entirely through sponsorship and donations and welcomed hundreds of students from regional universities and schools to participate. Also in attendance were representatives from partnering companies, banks and hotels who provided their support to the event, in addition to the Canadian Ambassador H.E. Mr. David Drake, and representatives from the EU delegation, AUC officials, CCHE management, the Egyptian ministry of Tourism, and other foreign diplomatic missions. The marathon was accompanied by musical performances and cancer awareness efforts.

For media coverage of this version of the Marathon, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=EG&feature=share&v=XJkhPhIm6qs

 

 

Egypt Cancer Network recently caught up with Dr. Akram Safadi, the CEO of NetOne International. NetOne International, a telecom company that provides international calling services to the US, Canada and Australia, began hosting a campaign for ECN and 57357 during Ramadan 2012.

NetOne belongs to a multi-business group that started in Orlando 25 years ago as a company pioneering the notion of “contributing without donating”, through which they used telemarketing agreements with AT&T as a means of giving funds back to the community in parts of their monthly billing. The main idea behind this initiative, at its conception, was to provide aid to schools that were dependent on donations so that they could utilize the purchase power of their communities to fund the schools without donating. Under this principle, NetOne became the premier agent of AT&T when it came to selling to ethnic markets. This effort generated more than $100 million in sales annually, simultaneously contributing millions of dollars to schools and charities throughout the United States.

As a telecom company, NetOne came into formal existence in 1998 as a spinoff of the original NetOne framework, created with the explicit goal of providing international calling services to ethnic communities in the US and Canada. They based their customer service centers in Egypt and have been located there for nearly a decade. As a result, Dr. Safadi has made many trips to Egypt for business. On one of his more recent trips, he and Baher Tabana, the president of NetOne Egypt, had the opportunity to visit CCHE, which they had heard so much about through TV ads and social media. Mr. Tabana’s mother, who is involved in the charity work in Egypt, facilitated a visit with Dr. Hanaa and Dr. Abouelnaga and they were given a tour which profoundly inspired and impressed them. Dr. Safadi said, “it was not only the medical aspect of it, which is outstanding, but also the humanitarian aspect… [CCHE] is a great humanitarian institute with outstanding medical care… [for] people from all walks of life… we were wow-ed!”

Not only did Dr. Safadi visit the renowned CCHE campus, but his calling center team also paid a visit to the premises in early November 2012.

His visit inspired him to seek out opportunities to help the “great institute“ of CCHE in any way that he could, as a company and a business. This generated the proposal of an idea: as NetOne has call centers in Egypt, they therefore have a great reach to the Arab-American community as it is such a major sector of their customer base. NetOne speaks to nearly 2,000 Arabs in the United States every day from their call centers in Egypt, from which they offer them services and provide customer service to them.

The idea that Dr. Safadi proposed was a joint effort in NetOne supporting CCHE through campaigns in which they offer the customer the same service that they are currently obtaining, and, at no cost to the customer, donating 0.5% of the purchase price to CCHE. CCHE and ECN are in the process of promoting and raising awareness of these campaigns, creating a win-win scenario through which NetOne, CCHE and ECN are all promoted.

The campaign was signed into effect just before Ramadan of this year and is ongoing, allowing NetOne and their customers to contribute to CCHE at all times. This type of campaign allows NetOne to offer something extra to the customer, distinguishing them from competition. In arranging for this campaign, NetOne International has committed to a level of contribution over the next three years that will reach at least $85,000, and will consequently pursue a naming opportunity with CCHE once this amount is obtained. In October, the campaigns generated $8,438 to 57357, and at this pace the $85,000 commitment will be met in one year instead of the three years span.

The toll free numbers that they are providing those interested in donating are: 1-855-GO-57357 for NetOne+57357 Campaign and 1-855-TO-57357 for Omniat+57357 Campaign. When customers call any one of these numbers, they go directly to the main call centers in Egypt and generate a donation to ECN, which is put towards CCHE. Please ensure that you call the aforementioned numbers if you are interested in donating to ECN.

 

As Ramadan draws to a close, ECN wanted to highlight the numerous accomplishments that we have accumulated over the past year. These include our sponsorship of an emergency supply of leukemia medication, the architectural design and expansion of CCHE 57357, feasibility studies for new endeavors, Egyptian medical researchers in seeking higher education opportunities to build CCHE’s staff capacity and the approval of our international fellowship program, among other successes.

ECN has dedicated itself to contributing $10 million to the highly-anticipated expansion of Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE), which will ultimately cost upwards of $80 million. Other projects that are in receipt of our support are the construction of new outpatient clinics, a hospice care edifice and guest houses at the Egyptian National Cancer Institute (NCI). In the spirit of the new era that Egypt is now in, and in recognition of the need for all Egyptians to have opportunities and accessibility to services and high-quality care, this goal is certainly attainable. Thus far, during the first three weeks of Ramadan, we have raised over $1.6 million in donations. With $170,000 in donations, ECN could support the extended education and training of 8-10 Egyptian researchers at prestigious institutions in the United States and elsewhere. Naming opportunities can allow you to have various equipment, rooms and buildings at CCHE and NCI be named after you or a loved one. Naming opportunities range in price from $2,000 for an electrical room to $300,000 to sponsor the building entrance. For more information on naming opportunities and to view the list of naming opportunities, please click here.

In just one year we have accomplished so much, but there is always more work to be done in the realm of cancer treatment. Please consider donating to our organization so that we can continue to support endeavors that change the lives of cancer patients in Egypt and beyond. To learn more about the impact of your gifts thus far, please visit our accomplishments page, which we update on a regular basis to keep our donors informed of the progress of our major projects. To learn more about the impact of your future gifts, please visit our projects page.

 

 

 

On 07/07/07, Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE) opened its doors. Five years later, they have accomplished so much. July 7th, 2012 marked the five-year anniversary of CCHE’s establishment. To celebrate the event, CCHE held a day-long festival for its patients and their families on July 3rd, 2012, including a military parade, handicrafts, face painting, a circus show, a choir performance given by the Egyptian National Children’s Chorale, folkloric dances and fireworks.

In attendance were the Minister of Scientific Research, Her Excellency Dr. Nadia Zakhary, and numerous representatives from various Western, Arab and African countries, including Canada, Austria, Kuwait, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Congo, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, Nigeria and Mozambique. CCHE’s charitable partners and sponsors were also present at the event. In a speech presented to attendees, Dr. Zakhary highlighted the fact that CCHE’s stark success in the field of pediatric oncology had inspired her ministry to look into conducting new research studies focused on cancer. She also deemed CCHE a major role model in redefining healthcare in Egypt and the Arab world.

Mrs. Ola Ghabbour, one of ECN’s esteemed board members, provided those present with a heartfelt welcoming address, in which she expressed profound thanks to donors to CCHE’s endeavors and referenced several key statistics exemplifying CCHE’s successes.

Also representing ECN was Dr. Mark Kieran, also one of ECN’s esteemed board members and the treasurer for our organisation, who was in town at the time. Dr. Kieran, too, made a speech at the event on behalf of ECN which can be seen here.

Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga, CCHE’s Vice President of Research, Academic Affairs and Outreach spoke to CCHE’s need for more donations to support their much-needed expansion project. As Dr. Abouelnaga concluded, the Kuwaiti Chargé D’affaires , Mr. Meshaal Aal Said, presented CCHE with a generous donation to be put towards the expansion.

In order to commemorate this phenomenal anniversary, ECN will be sending a congratulatory banner to CCHE which will hang in the patient area of the hospital. ECN is a proud sponsor of CCHE and wishes the hospital, dedicated staff and patients continued success and prosperity far into the future.

 

On Sunday, July 1st, 2012, the Sereen Foundation, one of ECN’s partners, delivered the first component of its WoW Project to Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE). The delivery was made by Sereen Foundation principals Dr. Tawfik Abdelmoneim, Magda Elreheimy and Tania Abdelmoneim.

The donation consisted of arts and crafts supplies which were received by Dr. Nermin Sharabas and Dr. Hanaa Farid, the Head of the Volunteer’s Department and the Strategic Manager of CCHE, respectively.

“Art supplies not only bring joy to the children but also a sense of normalcy as they deal with the challenges of their treatment”, said Dr. Sharabas.

Earlier this year, ECN established a fund called the “Sereen Fund”, which was arranged with the Sereen Foundation to benefit ECN’s partners, including CCHE, AFNCI and Fakkous. The WoW Project was initiated by the Sereen Foundation as a major recipient of Sereen Fund donations to deliver art supplies to CCHE in order to supplement the artistic activities undertaken by staff, volunteers and patients at the hospital.

On behalf of CCHE, ECN thanks the Sereen Foundation for this unique donation and looks forward to further future collaboration! For more information about the Sereen Foundation, please follow them on twitter using @sereenfund or on facebook at the following link: http://www.facebook.com/SereenFoundation .

To read the Sereen Fund’s article about their WoW Project delivery to CCHE, please click here. To read their article about their delivery of school supplies to CCHE, please click here. Kindly continue to follow the achievements page for future updates on ECN’s Sereen Fund initiatives.