All around the world, children are suffering from spinal deformities. Some are inherited, some are due to trauma, disease, abuse, or neglect. Either way, these children do not have the medical resources needed to help correct this devastating problem. People in third world countries just do not have enough manpower and trained orthopedic staff to help correct these issues.
Established in 2003, The Butterfly Foundation (Fundacion Mariposa in Spanish) is dedicated to not only fixing spinal deformity, but training others to do it as well. Dr. Andrew Moulton, based out of Westchester Medical Center in Hawthorne, New York, was inspired to form the foundation to help people complete the metamorphosis needed to live again- much like that of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
So far, the Foundation has traveled to the Dominican Republic (native country of Dr. Moulton’s wife), Africa, Japan, Chile, Malawi, and Vietnam. Vietnam in particular was challenging for Dr. Moulton, as the main method of transportation is moped, without helmet. Injuries were widespread, and difficult to prevent. Thanks to this and diseases caused by poor nutrition, many of the resident’s spines have not developed correctly. One of Dr. Moulton’s most memorable patients was a Vietnamese monk, whose spine was collapsing due to tuberculosis. Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Moulton and his team worked with many scoliosis patients, using titanium alloy and very delicate surgical procedures to repair these types of curvatures. The rate of scoliosis versus that of the United States is 2:1, without the braces and other types of treatment Americans have access to.
Not only are the physical ramifications of this type of work beneficial to the patient, but it is also a huge boost to one’s self-esteem. Many growing children feel freakish when their body betrays them and they cannot grow like others. Due to the efforts of Dr. Moulton and his team, a state-of-the-art operating hospital has been established in the Dominican Republic, so the work of the Butterfly Foundation can carry on, even when Dr. Moulton is in another country doing his good work. The program is being promoted through the North American Spine Society, of which Dr. Moulton is Former President. A popular media presence, the Butterfly Foundation has been featured in Orthopedics Today, Westchester Health and Life, and the Dominican Times; among other press.
To find out more about this unique organization, please visit The Butterfly Foundation: Creating new butterflies with each new surgery!