PITTSBURGH, Feb. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In April 2010, in the midst of the devastation of the Haitian earthquake, a young man named Tassy Fils-aime turned to Ian Rosenberger and asked, "Can you help me?"
A tumor the size of a tennis ball was growing on Tassy's face, and leaving it untreated could mean he would no longer be able to eat. Rosenberger of Pittsburgh, a former star of the CBS reality show "Survivor," had gone to Haiti to help the earthquake relief effort.
Today, thanks to the cooperation and compassion of Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), Rosenberger, his friend Laura Kelly and a group of caring people known as Team Tassy, Tassy's tumor has been removed and he is headed home to Haiti on Thursday.
AGH otolaryngologist James Blaugrund, MD, and plastic surgeon Michael White, MD, performed an eight-hour surgical procedure to remove Tassy's tumor on Nov. 15, volunteering at no cost. Team Tassy raised more than $35,000 to cover Tassy's costs and other expenses associated with his surgery.While the world's attention has largely drifted away from the crisis in Haiti, the aftereffects of the catastrophic Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake are still being felt there. According to UNICEF, more than 1 million people remain displaced, living in crowded, substandard camps. "In Haiti, young people like Tassy don't get the kind of medical care that we take for granted in the United States," Rosenberger said. "I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of Drs. Blaugrund and White, AGH, and so many individuals who made donations big and small." Dr. Blaugrund, who has made several trips to Haiti to help people injured in last year's earthquake, said the work is often frustrating due to the lack of basic medical supplies. "To help just one person is not enough, but it's a start," Dr. Blaugrund said. "We are happy to have been able to help Tassy and hope this will draw attention to the continued dire situation in Haiti." "When Dr. Blaugrund told me Tassy's story, I was happy to do what I could to help," Dr. White said. "It's been very rewarding to see him looking so well, smiling, and making plans for a long future."