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New year leads to new transformations for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts patients

SAN DIEGO – As the new year is in full swing, national nonprofit, Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, is hosting its first 2023 Surgery Weekend where its mission to change lives comes to life. Fresh Start Surgical Gifts will be transforming nine children's lives Jan. 21-22, including three port-wine stain patients: Andrea, 5; Grecia, 11, and Edwin, 2, who were all treated by Fresh Start volunteer and dermatologist, Dr. Bari Cunningham, at the world-renowned Rady Children's Hospital.

Andrea and Edwin are two of Fresh Start's many returning patients, and Grecia is a new Fresh Start patient. The three children will receive treatment for their port-wine stain birthmarks. These birthmarks are swollen blood vessels that create red and or purple discoloration on the skin. With this medical treatment considered cosmetic and not being covered by insurance, each of these patients were facing tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, until they found a solution with Fresh Start Surgical Gifts.

At Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, the nonprofit accepts patients from newborn to young adulthood from across the U.S. Andrea has traveled to San Diego with her father, Israel, to receive seven consecutive treatments for her port-wine stain birthmark that was covering her face. The family has never received a bill for anything that involved her traveling, surgeries, treatment and has never paid anything at all regarding follow-up care as in bandages or medication. A patient with a similar case, Grecia heard about Fresh Start through Andrea's father and is set to receive her first treatment with Fresh Start to treat a port-wine stain birthmark covering the right side of her face.

Like Andrea, Edwin, who is two years old, began his Fresh Start journey at just a few months old. His mother was trying to find solutions to treat his port-wine stain birthmark that covered most of his face and ended up paying for a few very expensive laser treatments for him. He still needed care, however, and there was a lack of affordable treatment options for his birthmark. It wasn't until his mother reached out to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts that her hope of her son receiving treatment was restored. The nonprofit openly accepted Edwin as a long-term patient, and it will be his second treatment for his port-wine stain birthmark.

These stories are only a small portion of what Fresh Start Surgical Gifts does for children and their families around the world. Each year, the organization transforms the lives of hundreds of disadvantaged infants, children and teens with physical and cosmetic deformities by providing reconstructive surgery at absolutely no cost to patients or their families. World-renowned surgeons donate their time and expertise to offer them the medical care they need.

To efficiently provide care and corrective surgery for children, Fresh Start hosts nine surgery weekend cycles annually. Each cycle provides patients with two days of intensive surgeries along with supporting medical treatments, such as dental, orthodontics, laser and speech therapy. Fresh Start's volunteer medical professionals are highly qualified and strive to empower the confidence of these children.

With over $56 million in value of medical care donated since Fresh Start began, Fresh Start will continue to care and transform these nine patients at no cost during every step of their treatment and recovery journey.

"There is truly nothing like seeing the joy on these children's faces. None of which would be possible without our incredible team of doctors, nurses and volunteers who donate their time and talent to truly change lives forever," Shari Brasher, CEO of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, said. "Of course, we owe it all to our amazing donors whose support means the world to us. It's how we've been able to do this amazing work for 32 years and counting."

Since 1991, Fresh Start Surgical Gifts has helped 8,818 children and has expanded into multiple regions throughout the U.S., headquartered in San Diego, with locations in Chicago and now San Antonio. The organization has also partnered with Sanford Health, a health care system that is the only children's hospital in South Dakota with one goal of making screenings, health care and treatments available and accessible for as many children as possible. Fresh Start accepts applications on an ongoing basis. Children may be cared for in San Diego, San Antonio or Chicago.

Fresh Start Surgical Gifts remains committed to helping improve the lives of children and families across the U.S., partnering with organizations that share their mission and vision. For more information on Fresh Start Surgical Gifts or to make a donation, visit

Submitted by Fresh Start Surgical Gifts.


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