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.

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The ECN Tri-State Chapter, consisting of volunteers based in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, will be hosting a fundraising dinner and presentation on Saturday, March 30th, 2013 at the Garden City Hotel in Garden City, NY.

The event will commence at 6.30 pm with a reception and registration, followed by dinner and the main event at 7.00 pm. Keynote speaker Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga, the Vice President of CCHE 57357, will be in attendance.

Tickets will be $200 each. For more information, please refer to the above flier.

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IMG_4868 - CopyChildren’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE) is well-known in Egypt and amongst its neighbors for its many pioneering initiatives and achievements. Amidst these achievements has been assisting a Sudanese charity in establishing a hospital in Sudan using CCHE’s model. In light of this, CCHE recently welcomed the former CEO of the King Faisal Hospital in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Sultan Bahebry, for a visit which marked the beginning of the visualization of the Saudi Children’s Cancer Hospital in Madinah City. The visit focused on building cooperation in the departments of training, development and scientific research. Dr. Bahebry was joined on his visit by a small delegation from the Saudi Charity known as Ahyaha, which is designated to carry out the future plans for the hospital.

“CCHE is an achievements that the Arab world is very proud of because of its stature amidst the pediatric oncology centers at the world level”, said Dr. Bahebry. He also stated that the undertakers of the Saudi Children’s Cancer Hospital look forward to benefiting from the experience and expertise of CCHE, particularly in the fields of training, development and scientific research. Dr. Bahebry suggested that this best be achieved through designing an extensive cooperation program between the two institutions.

IMG_4889The distinguished visitors were taken on a tour throughout CCHE and the Children’s Cancer Hospital Foundation (CCHF) by CCHE staff in which they were exposed to the various departments of the hospital as well as introduced to cutting-edge technologies and equipment. They were also briefed on the rigorous fundraising strategy that CCHE, in tandem with ECN, undertakes in order to support their efforts. The visit was concluded by a meeting with Dr. Sherif Abouelnaga, CCHE’s Vice-President for Research, Academic Affairs and Outreach. This final encounter was an opportunity for Dr. Abouelnaga to share CCHE’s vision for its future expansion with the visitors. For more information about the CCHE Expansion Project, please click here.

CCHE is continually putting knowledge into action in order to locate a cure for the ailments of its patients. Its processes are based on experiences derived from the endless pursuit of CCHE’s researchers to improve the outcomes of its patients and exchange knowledge with other large entities in the field of pediatric oncology. An example of this is the recently-initiated joint International Fellowship Program in pediatric oncology which was launched in collaboration with the Dana-Farber Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DFCHCC) and ECN.

The visit was finalized with a discussion pertaining to future cooperation between the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Madinah City and CCHE, in which Dr. Abouelnaga expressed his approval of the cooperative spirit and reiterated his willingness to assist Dr. Bahebry and the Ahyahya organization in replicating the CCHE model in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world.

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Mr. Bob Bradley, the head coach for Egypt’s National Soccer Team, paid a visit to Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE)with his wife, Lindsay. While there he commented on how CCHE was reminiscent of pediatric centers in the United States, attributing this sentiment to the “warm… caring environment” and the “special, spirited and cooperative” staff.

In appreciation of CCHE’s loving environment free, quality care for Egyptian children suffering from cancer, the Bradley’s presented a personal donation to CCHE, noting that these visits had become a part of their holiday traditions. They will be returning to the United States shortly for the holidays and wanted to visit CCHE before their departure, they said.

Making a connection between El-Ahly Club team’s recent victory against Hiroshima in the FIFA Cup/World Club and the medical victories achieved at CCHE, Mr. Bradey affirmed that he felt that both aforementioned entities were “rays of hope” in the midst of turmoil.

Mr. Bradley also made a statement about ECN, expressing his deepest gratitude to the organization and encouraging donors to support CCHE through ECN. “We love coming here to meet our special friends and we would be proud to be a part of ECN… [which] has been a substantial force in ensuring that this great work in Egypt continues…”. Mr. Bradley referred in particular to the CCHE expansion scheme, which will include additional beds, a health sciences academy, a research institute, a radiology unit and a hospice center, among other feats.

Before leaving CCHE, the Bradley’s spent several hours with the children, giving them words of encouragement and delighting both patients and staff with their kindness and strength. To see video documentation of his visit in an ad that Mr. Bradley and his wife made for ECN, please click here.

ECN North Carolina’s Chapter to will be hosting a fundraising event entitled “Carolina to Cairo: Revolution to Recovery “. This chapter of volunteers consists of students from University of North Carolina who have graciously volunteered their time to help ECN and Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357.

The event will take place on Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 at 6.30 PM EST in Chapel Hill, NC. If there are any questions, please contact carolina@egyptcancernetwork.org.  Please see the below information for more details on this special event.

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ECN’s Chicago Chapter hosted a Teddy Bear drive in collaboration with Adventist Midwest Health and the National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) in order to provide children at the Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital with teddy bears around the holiday season.

The Chicago Chapter set up donation points throughout Chicago at which they could accept new teddy bear donations to send to the hospital. Collection efforts resulted in a final total of over 150 teddy bears, which were distributed to children in the pediatric and emergency sections at the Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.

Mrs. Mary Alexander-Basta, the ECN Chicago Chapter leader, said, ”We hope [that through this effort] we make a child’s holiday a little brighter.”

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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