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URMC / News / Highland Family Helps Croatian Boy with Cystic Fibrosis

Highland Family Helps Croatian Boy with Cystic Fibrosis

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vehid Basic, RN, CGRN

A 12-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis is breathing a little easier. Armando recently received his own oscillatory machine and vest from members of the Highland Hospital family - located more than 4,300 miles away from his hometown.

Vehid Basic, RN, CGRN, (left) a nurse in Highland's Endoscopy Center, led the effort to get Armando the equipment he needed to survive. The young boy lives in Croatia near Vehid’s native country of Bosnia.

Vehid has worked at Highland since 2006. It was his position as a registered nurse that caught the attention of a friend in the local Bosnian-Croatian community earlier this year.

Kori Tolbert, Doug Booth and Vehid Basic

Vehid’s friend told him about Armando and his family's urgent search for an oscillatory machine and vest. To be able to breathe, the young boy needs to be treated with this device, which helps to loosen up extra secretions in his lungs. In Croatia, these expensive devices are limited, and Armando frequently had to wait in line at the hospital to be treated.

Vehid set out to do whatever he could.

"I sent emails to everyone I knew in Western New York, looking for someone to donate one of these machines," Vehid says.

Armando

Two months later, his request reached Kori Tolbert, 32, of Rochester (pictured on the far left with Doug Booth, Highland Respiratory Care Manager, and Vehid). A cystic fibrosis patient, Kori had an extra vest from her close friend, Peter, who lost his battle with the disease in January 2011.

"His mother gave it to me, so I could use, so it could be like Pete hugging me while doing therapy," Kori says.

Kori and Peter met at Strong Memorial Hospital when they were children. Kori was 11 and Peter was 12, just like Armando, making the donation even more special.

"Peter had wanted to be an organ donor, but he couldn’t because of the state of his body when he passed," Kori says. "So I came to the conclusion that this is a way he could be an organ donor or pass on something that intimately belonged to him to help someone else breathe."

"It feels pretty incredible to be a part of this."

Others from the extended Highland family came forward to pay the $1,200 shipping cost, including the hospitalist group; Bilal Ahmed, M.B.B.S., Associate Chief of Medicine; Robert McCann, M.D., Chief of Medicine; and Alan Katz, M.D., M.P.H., URMC Associate Professor and Medical Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology. Carolyn Hughes, Hedva Katz, RN, and Howard Merzel, M.D., from the Highland Endoscopy Center also pitched in.

The machine reached Armando, right, earlier this month. When it did, Armando sent a photo and message to Vehid. It said:

"Vehid, I don’t know how long I have to live, but I now have you as a friend for the rest of my life - no matter how short it may be."

"Nursing itself is altruistic, but doing this is a grade above," Vehid says.

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