When my good friend Jean Marie Poinsard (PDG Paris Region) wrote me from France several months ago, I replied immediately: “What can LA5 do to help?” JM was so-very-kindly seeking assistances for a family from Southern France whose lovely daughter Anastacia Tilotta, age 11, was tragically born without ears and her ear canals were completely closed as well. From an early age she has been equipped with an external hearing device and has been following a normal school program.
Two years ago, the parents discovered that pediatric surgeons in Palo Alto had developed a revolutionary procedure to correct the condition and enable the child to hear normally. The parents have scheduled in July—at the breathtaking cost of US $100,000— this ground-breaking surgery. Then follow-up care in Beverly Hills for almost 3 weeks with an equally world-famous physician.
The family hope that Rotarians can assist with accommodations in the Beverly Hills area. (One bonus for me: a Zoom introduction to this brave and charming family—including a still photo of Anastacia in her bedroom looking like any other pre-teen playing her drum set.).
I assembled an LA5 Strike Force (thanks Pres. Matt, Charisse and Malinda!) to work on this. Within hours, Charisse had introduced me to her former BH Chamber colleague, Charles Black, PE of the BH Rotary Club. I soon met him in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel (on Sunset) where the BHRC previously met and will soon resume gathering. I was pleasantly surprised by Charles’ immediate reaction: “Of course, the Tilottas are very welcome to stay with my family in our home.”
However, his preference, recognizing how stressful and tiring it will likely be for the family with Anastacia undergoing significant medical care far from home, is for the family to have their own apartment during their stay so that they can duplicate their regular family routine and meals as much as possible. With this goal in mind, the BHRC has established a Go Fund Me account for the family with a goal of $7500. Donations to date (including from LA5 members) are half-way there.
Rotarians in France have passed the hat and will cover airfare for the family of four as well as a rental car. The family will take out a bank loan for the $100,000 surgical and related medical fees for the cutting-edge surgery they are so happy to have discovered.
[Happily Charles has a good friend in his neighborhood whose daughter suffered from the same condition and recently underwent the same surgery in Palo Alto and follow-up in Beverly Hills. Charles arranged a Zoom to introduce his friends to the Tilottas, with Charles interpreting. This session was both informative and reassuring to the Tilottas.]
This international effort is a truly inspiring cause and those of us involved feel privileged to be able to assist. If you seek more details than this “Cliff Notes” rendition, please get in touch with me. But regardless, please contribute to the account whose link is here.