The problem: a rare cancer, a tricky surgery

Our brother Prajjwal is a young man who has just turned 21. He grew up and still lives in a small mountain village west of Kathmandu, Nepal, currently studying computer science and economics. He is the pillar of our family. He manages all the electronics in the house and does the shopping for his mother and grandmother using his motorcycle, the only vehicle of the household. Always ready to help others, he’s passionate about photography and dreams of discovering the world.

Last spring, during the confinement, he started to feel increasing pain in his lower back. As soon as it was possible for him to go to Kathmandu again, he had an MRI done, which revealed an orange-sized tumor detected inside his right hip. The biopsy brought the final diagnosis in August: chondroblastic osteosarcoma of the sacrum/pelvis, a very rare type of bone cancer (less than 0.01% of all patients).

He went through an initial series of three rounds of chemotherapy in Nepal and now needs surgery to completely remove the tumor. It’s a very complicated operation because it involves nerves in and around the sacrum and vertebrae, which could result in severe restrictions of mobility, or even paraplegia, if done incorrectly.

The doctors there are doing their best, but they have never seen a case like Prajjwal’s and so, have never performed such a risky surgery.

Our options in Nepal were limited. What could we do?

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The solution: a highly specialized surgeon in Switzerland

When we realized it was impossible to perform the surgery in Nepal, we dedicated ourselves to finding a solution in Switzerland. Not only because we live here and can welcome and support Prajjwal directly, but also because we were convinced we could find a surgeon with expertise in this very rare cancer.

After many emails and calls, we finally met with PD Dr. med. Andreas Krieg in Basel, who immediately understood the diagnosis and the specific challenges (financial, logistical, etc.) it presented in our case. He and his team (oncologists, spine specialists, radiologists) spent many hours, free of charge, analyzing Prajjwal’s file in order to get a clear picture of the situation and to confirm that a resection of the tumor would be possible by the end of January 2021. His commitment was such that he also succeeded in convincing the University Hospital of Basel to keep the costs to a minimum for the planned 21 days of hospitalization.

After a month of research and discussions with various specialists, we have full confidence in Dr. Krieg and his team. Since 2012, he has been the head of the Bone Tumor and Soft Tissue Center. He has 25 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon, and he and his team are recognized in the medical and scientific community for their work in orthopedic oncology (see links at the end of the page for more information).

In short, we are in very good hands! So what’s still missing to give Prajjwal his chance?

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The key to success: doing it together

Catching the interest of Dr. Krieg and his team represents a tremendous opportunity for Prajjwal because Swiss doctors receive dozens of requests like ours and only a few exceptions can be accepted each year. This surgery is critical for his chances at a healthy life and all we need now to make it a reality are the finances.

Unfortunately, public health insurance doesn’t exist in Nepal and the cost of treatment in Switzerland, though significantly reduced, still remains very high. Our entire family (both in Nepal and here) have put all our savings together but this still only covers one third of the amount.

This is where our community plays a crucial role! We believe as a collective, we can make this happen. Each individual contribution, no matter how small, brings us a little closer to our goal. Even sharing our story can make a huge difference.

Cancer is a formidable opponent, but together we can give Prajjwal a fighting chance. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support, generosity and for sharing this campaign!

WHAT THIS PROJECT COSTS

Material + Surgery Staff + 21 Days of Hospitalization, Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy:

CHF 65,000 / EUR 60,000 / USD 74,000

+

Logistical Costs (Plane, Visa, Passport, Safety Net)

CHF 5,000 / EUR 4,500 / USD 6,000

=

Total: CHF 70,000 / EUR 64,500 / USD 80,000

The surgery-specific costs are equivalent to what insurance companies would be charged for treating a Swiss patient, and less than half of what would normally be charged for a foreign patient. No one is making a profit as these are the fixed costs of the hospital for the surgery and 21 day hospitalization. All of the time Dr. Kreig and his team have spent and will spend on this case is done pro-bono.

The logistical costs include bringing Prajjwal to Switzerland, the expenses for his stay here, as well as for a small safety net for unforeseen events.

THE FUNDS AT OUR DISPOSAL

Between our family in Nepal and ourselves, we have about CHF 20,000 / EUR 18,000 / USD 23,000 in savings. We have started getting in touch with foundations, but it seems very difficult to get financial support for a patient who does not live in Switzerland. Nevertheless, we are not giving up and will continue to knock on every door!

If we are not able to raise funds from these organizations by the end of January 2021, we estimate that we can borrow up to CHF 10’000 / EUR 9,000 / USD 11,000, if this allows us to bring the project to a success.

THE OBJECTIVES OF CROWDFUNDING AND WHAT THEY ALLOW US TO ACHIEVE

CHF 40,000: We can take on a reasonable amount of debt and pool this along with our savings to cover the total costs of care in Switzerland

CHF 50,000: Our family would not have to take on any debt and we can make this surgery happen!

–> CHF 65,000: We barely dare dreaming about it but it would mean that, thanks to you, the family in Nepal could keep their savings to take care of Prajjwal once he’s back home (physio, rehabilitation, post-operative chemo, etc.) and feel serene about the future.

THE TEAM BEHIND THE PROJECT

Reema (Sujeeta): Prajjwal’s older sister, who has taken care of him since he was a small child, taking him everywhere with her, holding him in her arms to show him the world.

Johann: Reema’s husband, who met her 4 years ago in Nepal. Since that moment, his life has become brighter every day and he wants to spend every waking hour with her. Prajjwal therefore became his brother too and he’s ready to move mountains in order to help him.

Claudio & Matthieu: our photographer and musician friends, who made in record time an incredible video and soundtrack that touched your heart.

Anaïs, Anouchka, Cathy, Sophia, her mom and Rahel : our fantastic friends who reviewed, advised, translated and shared our project.

Jacqueline & Didier: the parents, who have been supporting Johann for 32 years and Reema for 4 years, without whom we would never have had the courage to embark on such adventures.

The Basel Cancer League: who support us with the administrative work.

Thank you for your interest and support! Don’t hesitate to share this page with your family and friends and to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions: OperationNepal@gmail.com.

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