Donor Profile: Dr. Livia Wan

Rachel, Miriam, Livia

In 2019, Dr. Livia Wan sponsored a grant through her philanthropic organization, the Lui and Wan Foundation, to ensure that one of BHI’s key research projects would have the funding to complete its work.

Dr. Wan has a deep commitment to women’s health, and she is known as a pioneer among her peers in gynecological medicine. She came to the U.S. from Taiwan for her ob/GYN residency in Philadelphia and then moved to NYC where she started her own solo private practice. She also established the NYU Division of Family Planning and, under her leadership, NYU became one of the main research sites for multiple contraceptive studies funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH/ NICHD). Through these projects, Dr. Wan brought in millions of dollars to the medical center over her 50+ year career. BHI’s connection to Dr. Wan is as personal as it is passionate. Drs. Cremer and Masch worked with her closely when they were at NYU. Her activism, research acumen, work ethic, and generosity have truly been inspirational to the leadership at BHI. Dr. Wan became interested in BHI’s work and has been a staunch supporter of the mission to eliminate cervical cancer globally.

Successful Treatment: Nanotte’s Story

One afternoon, a 43 year-old mother named Nanotte came to Haiti’s Klinik Manitane for a free cervical cancer screening that took place during one of the cervical cancer training delegations led by Dr. Masch.

Her pelvic exam revealed that she had a lesion that was suspicious for advanced cervical cancer. The biopsy subsequently confirmed the diagnosis of squamous cervical cancer. Nanotte was the first patient screened through Dr. Masch’s training delegation to be diagnosed with an advanced case of cervical cancer. Cryotherapy, which Dr. Masch’s group was trained to perform, was not an option due to the advanced stage of Nanotte’s cancer.

To provide Nanotte with the level of care she needed, Dr. Masch returned to Haiti to perform a pro bono radical hysterectomy assisted by her friend and colleague, Dr. Jill Whyte, a gynecologist oncologist at North Shore LLIJ Cancer Institute in New York.

The surgery was performed at St. Luc’s sister facility, St. Damien’s Hospital, which generously donated their surgical suite and hospital services. Pathology from the surgery revealed a 2.8 centimeter tumor, and radiation therapy and chemotherapy were indicated for treatment. Neither chemo nor radiation therapy was available to Nanotte in Haiti, so she had to leave the country to receive her treatment. After much assistance from multiple non-profits and the absolute persistence and tenacity of Dr. Marc Augustin, the medical director of St. Luc Fondation, Nanotte obtained a passport and visas, secured lodging, transportation, and food. All the arrangements were made for her to have her treatments at Instituto Oncologico Del Cibao in Santiago de los Cabelleros in the Dominican Republic. While there, Nanotte was supported by The Fundacion Solidaria del Divino Nino Jesus (FSDNJ), headed by Father Eduardo. Direct Relief paid for the cost of the treatments, transportation, food, and lodging.

Nanotte arrived in the Dominican Republic, and after a series of scans and the completion of lab work, a seven-week course of chemotherapy and radiation began. The seven weeks turned into sixteen as Nanotte experienced adverse effects from her treatment. Nanotte successfully completed her treatments and safely returned to Haiti. A follow-up exam in the Dominican Republic revealed no evidence of cancer.

Survivor Story: Mercedes

Survivor Story: Rosa E.