Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gifted surgeon helps Kiwi brains

An internationally renowned neurosurgeon who came to prominence through his lifesaving surgery to separate twins joined at the head is coming to New Zealand to help two charities with their mission to support brain health in Kiwi kids.
Dr. Ben Carson, Director of Paediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, successfully separated twins joined at the head in 1987 with a lifesaving technique that had never been used before.  He is also credited with carrying out a range of brain surgeries in children experiencing as many as 100 seizures a day to allow them to live a normal life.
However, Dr. Carson’s early life gave no indication of his later success.  Brought up by his single, illiterate mother in a poor suburb of Detroit, he was a below average student until his mother turned off the television set and made reading the number one priority in her children’s lives.
His experiences as a child propelled Dr. Carson to become a campaigner for literacy and learning, and he personally has been responsible for bringing books back into American schools that have lost their libraries due to budget cuts.
Little did Dr. Carson know as he developed his career as a surgeon that he would one day be portrayed by an Oscar winner in a movie about his life and achievements.  In 2009, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in Gifted Hands – The Ben Carson Story.  Based on the book of the same name, the story follows Dr. Carson’s life from bottom of the class in a Detroit public school, to his current role as Director of Paediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.
Now Dr. Carson is coming to New Zealand to inspire children in the Duffy Books in Homes programme and also raise funds for the Starship Foundation to help rebuild their Neuroservices and Medical Specialty Wards.
On March 6, 2012, Dr. Carson will tell his inspirational life story to 7000 children at Auckland’s TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre.  He will then be the guest of honour at a fundraising dinner at the SKYCITY Convention Centre where all funds raised will be shared between the Starship Foundation and Duffy Books in Homes.
Since the official launch in 1995 with 80 schools, 16,000 students and 14 sponsors, the Duffy Books in Homes programme has grown to encompass 541 schools, around 100,000 students and more than 200 sponsors in 2011.  More than seven million books have been distributed to children in low-decile schools since its inception and the programme now distributes more than 600,000 books annually.
The Starship Foundation raises funds so Starship Children’s Health can better care for New Zealand’s children.  Donations are an extra to Government funding to further assist the more than 120,000 children treated by the national children’s hospital every year.  The money raised from Dr. Ben Carson’s fundraising dinner will go towards the rebuild of Level 6 at Starship, where conditions including neurological disorders, brain tumours, metabolic and genetic disorders, head trauma and suspected child abuse injuries, respiratory illnesses and infectious diseases are treated.
Tickets for the fundraising dinner can be purchased online at, by calling 0800 383 392 or emailing

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