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Student Helps Disfigured Kids

Case Western Reserve University biology major Andrea Sterenstein spent the summer before her junior year entertaining young patients as an intern in MetroHealth Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit. After witnessing so many babies with physical disfigurements—like large birthmarks and scars from previous surgeries—born to parents who couldn’t afford corrective measures, she felt compelled to do more.

Surgeries for disfigurements are often deemed cosmetic and aren’t always covered by insurance, but Sterenstein’s concerns stretch beyond looks.

“Kids with noticeable disfigurements are often bullied, teased, isolated from others and become depressed as a result of loneliness and anger,” she says.

She points to increased rates of suicide among marginalized children, along with research that shows such youth can become recruiting targets for home-grown terrorists and gangs.

Sterenstein, now a senior, founded the U.S. Children’s Medical Assistance Fund Inc. to provide medical aid to disfigured children. She is fundraising through the organization’s Shop On-line site and also accepts monetary donations.

She says she is excited about the fund’s early successes and has set a realistic goal for the year: help one child in need.

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