Kate Corbett, Senior Program Director, US & International Referral Program

Many of our WPP patients travel home after their surgical treatment in the U.S. with a repaired heart, restored eyesight, straight legs, or able to breathe easier after the correction of a crooked spine. Johan needed no surgical care, but his time spent in St. Louis was life-changing in ways we never could have imagined.

Born with only a small portion of his right leg, no left arm, and only a few inches of his right arm, Johan’s mom, Patricia, was focused on her child being able to walk with a new prosthetic leg.

As written in a recent Shriners Hospital article, occupational therapist, Michelle Stading, soon learned they could do so much more.

“When Johan first arrived, he was terrified. We built our relationship over several sessions by interacting with his preferred toys – music, play food and iPad games – until he felt more comfortable” Stading said. “From there, the therapists worked with Johan to develop his core strength to help his balance and with various adaptive devices to help him become more independent.”

He soon was learning to walk with his brand new prosthetic leg, brush his teeth and eat on his own with the help of a “connector” strapped to his arm – something so small yet making an incredible difference in giving Johan more independence in daily tasks.

“When we asked Mom what her goals were when they returned home she said her main goal is for him to attend school and have a career,” Stading said. “Interacting and succeeding in a school setting would be hard for him if he could not write or type notes.”

Two extraordinary things happened from there.

First, through the efforts of the therapists, connections were made with a Missouri Moolah Shrine Club who donated an iPad to Johan. This technology gave Johan the great gift of accessibility, including a special pencil and voice control commands in Spanish. For a child with physical abilities like Johan’s, this is an indispensable tool and will greatly enhance his ability to be an interactive learner.

The second meaningful experience for Johan and his mom, Patricia, also arranged by one of his Shriners therapists, was the opportunity to meet a St. Louisan named John Foppe who also has limb differences – he was born with no arms.

“John is now the Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in St. Louis and a motivational speaker who has traveled all over the world,” shares Senior Program Director Natalia Rosales. “The goal of the meeting was to show Patricia that Johan can live a full life and achieve many things despite his disability. He shared his experiences with daily tasks and how he manages them and also talked openly with Patricia about her fears and worries for Johan’s future.”

Johan and his mom are now home in his rural mountainous Honduran village, and we look forward to watching him thrive over the years to come. We are forever grateful for the individuals who go the extra mile to make sure our kids receive the best possible healthcare while in the United States… and then some.

United States Referral Program By The Numbers

July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021


children traveled to the United States for life-changing critical care.


total services were provided including surgeries, procedures, consultations and therapies.