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After a Times profile, Haitian amputee is on her way to Israel for care

August 4, 2010 |  1:30 pm

Sounlove

On Feb. 17, Mitchell Landsberg told the story of Sounlove Zamour, a 19-year-old who lost both legs and her father in the Haitian earthquake in January. She is one of many new amputees in Haiti whose futures are in question. As Landsberg wrote, the disabled are often on the margins of society in a country where even the able-bodied struggle to get by.

Zamour was close to finishing high school, a rare accomplishment in Haiti. But her injuries and the death of her father, her sole means of support, put her education in jeopardy.

"I have no father," she told Landsberg. "I'd like to continue my education, but I can't."

Her plight tugged at the heartstrings of readers, about a dozen of whom contacted The Times to ask how they could help.

Several readers inquired about contributing toward her education. Another offered a prosthetic leg that had belonged to his late father. A group of elementary school girls who call themselves the Peace Troop asked what it could do.

The article also caught the attention of the executive director of a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that helps support Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Jack Saltzberg confirmed with the hospital that it could provide prosthetics, medical treatment and rehabilitation for Zamour.

Saltzberg e-mailed again soon after, saying he had "tears of joy" that L.A.-based Friends of Sheba Medical Center had committed to fully cover Zamour’s treatment. "I can't help think that her recovery will be eased by the love and support she is about to receive," he said in a Feb. 24 e-mail.

On July 24, Ken Ellingwood reported from Haiti that Zamour would soon be traveling to Israel, accompanied by her sister, to receive the treatment that Friends of Sheba had begun arranging in February.

"It’s been daunting," Saltzberg told Ellingwood. "I was hoping to get her out in three weeks and it's taken several months."

Saltzberg said that language and distance barriers had made the process of getting Zamour a passport and visa even more difficult. Zamour also needed to be well enough to make the long trip.

Wednesday morning, Saltzberg e-mailed to say that the plane carrying Zamour and her sister had taken off from Haiti en route to New York and then Israel.

Friends of Sheba has set up a fund for donations for Zamour, of which 100% will go toward her medical, educational and future expenses, Saltzberg said. Donations can be made at the Friends of Sheba website or by calling (310) 838-0700.

-- Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Sounlove Zamour with sister Baranatha at the general hospital in Gonaives, Haiti, in January. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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