"I EXPECT THEM TO HELP," SAYS ELISSA MONTANTI OF THE
MEDICAL VOLUNTEERS SHE HAS RECRUITED TO HELP HEAL
OVER 100 MAIMED CHILDRED - "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Scott Pelley Follows the Progress and Transformation of a Nine-Yr.-Old Amputee
Elissa Montanti can be hard to resist. Maybe she's even a little pushy. But how else can one person get people to donate the expensive time and resources she has marshaled to change the lives of over 100 young victims of overseas wars and natural disasters? Scott Pelley talks to this one-woman relief organization while following the month's-long progress of one of her severely maimed victims for a 60 MINUTES story to be broadcast Sunday, March 27 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Rounding up the surgeons, prosthetic limbs, hospital time, airfare, and more would seem to be a formidable challenge for a 57-yr.-old woman with just a computer and a phone. The hard truth helps, she says. "I tell them this true story. Here's a child that's battered. I just tell them the reality. I expect them to help," she tells Pelley. "I'm grateful, because they don't have to help, but I expect that they would, because how could you not?"
Among those who could not resist is Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh of LIPS, the Long Island Plastic Surgical Group. "There's this increasing pool of people that get drawn into her world. And if you're luck or unlucky enough to be excited about this stuff, you get pulled in," says Alizadeh. Watch an excerpt.
Montanti, who is single, has been doing this for nearly 15 years and calls her organization "Global Medical Relief Fund." "My charity is very personal. It becomes a global family. All these children. I say �my children' so often. Because I feel that that they are. I love all of them," she tells Pelley.
One of those children is nine-yr.old Wa'ad, an Iraqi boy maimed and disfigured by a bomb. The long process organized by Montanti entailed artificial limbs and a sophisticated plastic surgery regimen conducted by Alizadeh that took months. In the end, a little boy could play soccer again with a normal looking smile on his face. And Wa'ad wasn't the only one smiling. "I do this probably for the most selfish reason, which is that it feels good," says Alizadeh.
Montanti sees another positive aspect to her effort. "It's more than just an organization that is giving a child a leg or fixing his face," she tells Pelley. "These children go back as little ambassadors and they tell their town, their village... �How wonderful the American people are.'"