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Jeanneth Describes Operation as a "Rebirth"

Jeanneth Blanca Rojas Paucara was working as a street vendor in her home country of Bolivia, until a devastating accident changed her life forever in 2007. Her clothing caught fire, causing severe burns to her face, arms and neck. Because of limited medical resources, she was left with a thick layer of scar tissue that made it impossible to move her arms and head. Simple tasks, like walking or feeding herself, became difficult and left her unable to work.

Jeanneth Paucara
Dr. Meilman hugs a crying Jeanneth after surgery.
In January 2010, Catholic Health’s Kenmore Mercy Hospital and plastic surgeon Jeffrey Meilman, MD, gave Jeanneth back her life by donating a surgery that would help the 23 year-old mother of four regain movement in her arms and neck.

Jeanneth first learned about Dr. Meilman, who performs medical missions around the world, through an article in her local newspaper. She contacted Dr. Meilman through his Hope For Tomorrow Foundation and the group arranged to bring her to Western New York to undergo the life-altering surgery at Kenmore Mercy Hospital.

Over the years, Kenmore Mercy has helped dozens of children and young adults in medically underserved countries receive needed surgery. “We donated the operating room, professional staff, medical supplies and post-surgical care Jeanneth needed to have a chance at a normal life,” said James Millard, President & CEO of Kenmore Mercy Hospital.

During the six-hour procedure, Dr. Meilman removed major portions of scar tissue that restricted Jeanneth’s movement. Through an interpreter, she said, "It's like a rebirth for her, the operation. She couldn't move, and she was like, in this position for a very long time, and now she can move her neck."

Moved by her story, staff took the hospital’s mission "to serve those in need” even further. "As the nurses got to know this patient, they really understood where she came from and what her lifestyle, they have really rallied around and they purchased clothes for her and her family and some other supplies that she can take back with her," added Millard.

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